Archive for the ‘Shared Thoughts’ Category

(a timely re-post) 

Matthew 18:19 Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them.

A brother and I were praying for another when he quoted parts of these verses in his prayer. It got me to thinking about how these two verses are possibly the ones I hear taken out of context most when praying with others. Each verse seems to have their own catch phrases that tend to be quoted by young or untrained believers. Even believers who appear mature and seasoned are still only repeating without evaluating what they have heard from some preacher while trying to “claim” the promises of God. However, I need to ask, is that really Jesus’ intent here? Was He merely trying to teach us the formula of what and how things need to be done so we can then successfully claim His promises and get our prayers answered?

So, when I hear people misused verse 19, it is actually quite troublesome to me, because they really believe that by getting me or another to stand in agreement with them that they’re more likely to have their prayer answered. This flawed understanding literally keeps these believers in a position of trying to perfect the way they do things so they can have faith for their prayers… rather than simply praying because of faith.

Sadly, I am absolutely certain there are many Christians out there who cannot even understand what I just said. Because they been taught things incorrectly, they are left believing “faith” is something they must muster up somehow to compel God to move on their behalf, or even to hear their prayers.

We often witness another naive, though popular tactic to apply faith to prayer. This happens when people conclude their prayer request with that notable fluctuation in their tone as they say, “In Jesus name!” It kind of reminds me of when I was a kid and we would see another kid aspiring to be a magician wave his plastic wand and say “Abracadabra!” That’s because that was the magical word that was going to make the magic trick work.

However, scripture says faith comes by hearing and that hearing the word of God, so obviously many are hearing the word of God incorrectly and are failing to discern when they do. Faulty hearing leaves people trying to apply another kind of “faith” to their prayers, rather than permitting the word of God to be the vehicle whereby true faith is given unto them. That is why scripture states over and over, “He that has an ear to hear, let him hear.”

Regarding verse 20, it is evident it is being misunderstood by someone when you can sense they feel the need to verbally remind the Lord that there are “two or three are gathered together” in the His name. When I hear such usages of the scriptures it saddens me; because these are not the context in which the scriptures are given. Therefore I am writing this post to go over these verses to show how they are misused and address an error that is too common among those professing to know and walk with the Lord of Glory.

First, let’s look at this belief that if “two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything” then they will get whatever they are praying for. This misunderstanding is one reason why a lot of Christians hold hands when praying corporately. That doesn’t mean holding hands is wrong, but rather believing there needs to be “touching” is wrong. Most believers have witnessed this on religious TV shows, and perhaps that is where they were taught this erroneous belief.

While I discourage viewing the whole video, this is an example of  what many preachers do when they call on the people and those out in the viewing audience to come into an agreement together. Sometimes they will use the added touch of encouraging the people to reach their hands forward towards the pulpit and those at home to lay hands on their TV sets, as they pray for everything from financial prosperity, a revival, the salvation of family members, physical healing, and once again, some more financial prosperity.

It seems the more people can “do” while they are praying the more likely they are to have the faith for what they are praying about. What these preachers are doing is literally asking the people to make a conscious decision to willfully consent to surrender their minds and use their bodies to accept whatever is being told to them to do.

However, Jesus’s reference to “agree . . . as touching anything” is actually to imply an indication that such faith is authentic; and was not issuing an instruction to make physical contact. “As touching” is the proof faith is already present in their hearts; the kind of faith spoken of in Hebrews-

Hebrews 11:1 – Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Substance is tangible; it can be held and thus touched. Such is the gravity of true faith, evidence that has undeniable weight with God. But this faith comes only by correctly hearing, or rightly dividing, the word of truth. A hearing that receives understanding into the heart whereby we firmly lay hold of the promises of God.

Hebrews 11:2 – For by it the elders obtained a good report. 3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

When “two of you shall agree ” it is an indication that there exists a like-mindedness and unity of faith. Jesus wasn’t teaching us that we should solicit others to agree about issues of prayer so it will be more likely they will be answered, He was explaining when believers truly come together in a unity and faith regarding something (to be discussed later) then He will hear and their prayers will be answered by Him. Of course, the “agree as touching” or unity of faith will be dependent on each yielding to the Holy Spirit as He imparts to them a correct understanding of a matter through their”hearing” of His word.

Which brings us to verse 20, “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them.” Perhaps what I would like to do first with this verse is address what it is not saying. It is not saying that there needs to be “two or three gathered together” to have Jesus in our midst. His promise to all His children is evident in the verses below–

Genesis 28:15 – And, behold, I am with you, and will keep youin all places whither thou goest, and will bring you again into this land; for I will not leave you, until I have done that which I have spoken to you.

Matthew 28:20 – Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.

Hebrews 13:5 – Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as you have: for He has said, I will never leave you, nor forsake you.

There are many other passages that confirms the Lord is with each of His children. Remember, we are the temple of God, so to think Christ would not be with us when alone would be a rejection of the greatest promise of God to never leave or to forsake us. So then, if we are to be good “workman that needs not to be ashamed” and rightly walk in the light of this word, we must determine what Jesus was in fact speaking about.

To start, keep in mind the whole chapter from verse 7 to the end is dealing with “offenses.” However, from verses 15 to 35 Jesus begins dealing specifically with a “brother” being offended by another. When that happens we are instructed to go and “gain” our brother back. That is because sin separates men from God and each other, causing a breach in the unity of faith and the bond of peace to be broken. Jesus begins by telling us to first go privately and explain to our brother how he has “trespassed” against us.

Sometimes people don’t even recognize that the thing they did offended someone, or perhaps know what they did or failed to do was actually a sin. This instruction of scripture requires us to be willing to humble ourselves and to go seeking to remedy the situation by lovingly reasoning with our brother regarding the nature of their offense. Should they fail to hear us individually we are further instructed to take another brother with us so that these truths which are given to guide our love and behavior towards each other “may be established” according to God’s word.

If the brother continues to be unwilling admit or unconvinced that they have truly sinned, then Jesus says we are to tell it unto the whole church so that the whole body can judge the matter and together attempt to persuade the transgressor of his sin. However, the success of this will only be achieved through unfeigned love together with fervent prayer and often times requires fasting; thus placing the whole focus on restoration of unity and the bond of peace so the body might remain fitly joined together in service and worship to the glory of God.

Again, this all comes down to the transgressor humbling himself to correctly hear the word of God regarding the nature of his actions (or inactions). If he hears you, or the multitude of witnesses, then we have gained back our brother. If not, then we are clearly told that a willful sinner who continues to reject God’s word is to be unto us as “an heathen man and a publican.”

This “retaining” of their sin isn’t placing the brother in a state of condemnation, for his own continuance in sin has done that. Rather it is the churches responsibility to not enable sin by allowing people to continue in a known sin by permitting them to continue with us in a false fellowship. Yet this is what churches do all the time under the banner of “Love the sinner, Hate the sin.” Light and darkness have no meeting place for godly fellowship. However, if he acknowledges the truth and repents of his sin, then we can “loose” him from his sin with prayer and forgiveness.

When the sinner acknowledges their offense, it is here that we see the agreement “as touching anything” that Jesus was speaking of. All the parties involved have come to an agreement and a unity of faith regarding both sin and righteousness; the issue having been rightly divided and the offender humbled thereby and now seeks forgiveness. It is here at this precious moment we truly see how “two or three” are gather in Jesus name for righteousness sake and the petition that would be foremost upon their lips and hearts is for the Lord of Glory to forgive and heal the body of believers by strengthening the bond of peace and increasing our passionate charity one for another. Jesus’ promise assures us that He is there in our midst to heal us and bind us together in His Spirit, for He loves when we acknowledge His word and repent of our sins.

To take these verses and reduce them to a willful consent to accept another’s notion or desire about anything else and to pray holding hands to accomplish such, does enormous damage to the true intent of Jesus’ words. He has instructed us to love one another as He loves us and to humble ourselves, even when we are in the right. We are to go seeking restoration of that one who has perhaps ignorantly slipped out of the path of righteousness. Brothers and Sisters, what incredible healing God could work in His church if only they would correctly hear His words that were sent to heal us.

Concerning our praying “in Jesus name,” we do so as the qualifier of the object and reason of our faith; for because of Him and what He has done is why we have faith to come boldly before His throne of grace in our times of need. We know “as touching” that we have our petitions because what we ask is according to His will and not our own, for His glory and not our wants. And thus faith does work, for faith works by love. It comes from hearing and that hearing the truth of God’s heart, love and will for us.

Therefore, faith’s focus is always God and His steadfast faithfulness to His word. Faith exists solely because of what He has wrought for us and desires to complete in us through Christ Jesus our Lord. Faith finds rests only in His word and believing what He has done and what He has said He’ll do; never depending upon anything within or from ourselves. Faith is given to us simply because we believe what “He has said…”

Hebrews 13:5 – Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for He has said, I will never leave you, nor forsake you.

1st Peter 1:13 . Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 14 As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: 15 But as He which hath called you is holy, so be youholy in all manner of conversation; 16 Because it is written, Be you holy; for I am holy. 17 And if youcall on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear: 18 Forasmuch as you know that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot20 Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, 21 Who by Him do believe in God, that raised Him up from the dead, and gave Him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God22 Seeing you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that you love one another with a pure heart fervently: 23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which lives and abideth for ever. 24  For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: 25 But the word of the Lord endures for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.

Jesus is always with us. But He is especially there in our midst as a healer to strengthen and bond us together when in love we strive for the unity of the faith, confess our sins and pray for one another, for this is the greatest witness of the Gospel.

John 13:35 By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if you have love one to another.

Peace to those who love the Lord Jesus Christ.



Posted: September 23, 2021 in Shared Thoughts

By E. M. Bounds

“Of course, the preacher is above all others distinguished as a man of prayer. He prays as an ordinary Christian; else he was a hypocrite. He prays more than ordinary Christians else he was disqualified for the office he has undertaken. If you, as ministers are not very prayerful, you are to be pitied. If you become lax in sacred devotion, not only will you need to be pitied but your people also, and the day comes in which you will be ashamed and confounded. Our seasons of fastings and prayer at the Tabernacle have been high days indeed; never has heaven’s gate stood wider; never have our hearts been nearer the central glory.” Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Preachers are God’s leaders. They are divinely called to their holy office and high purpose, and primarily, are responsible for the condition of the Church. Just as Moses was called of God to lead Israel out of Egypt through the wilderness into the Promised Land, so also does God call His ministers to lead His spiritual Israel through this world unto the heavenly land. They are divinely commissioned to leadership, and are by precept and example to teach God’s people what God would have them be. Paul’s counsel to the young preacher Timothy is in point: “Let no man despise your youth,” he says, “but be an example of the believers, in word, conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”

God’s ministers are used of God to shape the Church’s character, and give tone and direction to its life. The prefacing sentence of the letter to each of the seven churches in Asia reads, To the angel of the Church, seeming to indicate that the angel, or  minister, was in the same state of mind and condition of life as were the membership, and that these angels or ministers were largely responsible for the spiritual condition of things existing in each Church. The angel in each case was the preacher, teacher, or leader.

The first Christians knew full well and felt this responsibility; and as this tremendous responsibility pressed upon their hearts and heads, in consciously felt helplessness they cried out, “Who is sufficient for things?” The only reply to such a question was, “God only.” So, of necessity they were compelled to look beyond themselves for help, and to throw themselves on prayer to secure God. More and more as they prayed, did they feel their responsibility, and more and more by means of prayer did they obtain God’s help; and thereby experienced that sufficiency which alone is of God.

Prayer belongs in a very high and important sense to the ministry. It takes vigor and elevation of character to administer the prayer-office. Praying prophets have frequently been at a premium in the history of God’s people. In every age the demand has been for leaders in Israel who pray. God’s watchmen must always and everywhere be men of prayer.

It ought to be no surprise for ministers to be often found on their knees seeking divine help under the responsibility of their call. These are the true prophets of the Lord, and these are they who stand as mouthpieces of God to a generation of wicked and worldly-minded men and women. Prayer preachers are boldest, the truest and the swiftest ministers of God. They mount up highest and are nearest to Him who has called them. They advance more rapidly and in Christian living are most like God.

In reading the record of the four evangelists, we cannot but be impressed by the supreme effort made by our Lord to rightly instruct the twelve Apostles in the things which would properly qualify them for the tremendous tasks which would be theirs after He had gone back to the bosom of the Father. His solicitude was for the Church that she should have men, holy in life and in heart, and who would know full well from whence came their strength and power in the work of the ministry. A large part of Christ’s teaching was addressed to these chosen Apostles, and the training of the twelve occupied much of His thought and consumed much of His time. In all that  training, prayer was laid down as a basic principle.

We find the same thing to be true in the life and work of the Apostle Paul. While he addressed himself to the edification of the churches to whom he ministered and wrote, it was in his mind and purpose to rightly instruct and prepare ministers to whom would be committed the interests of God’s people. The two epistles to Timothy were addressed to a young preacher, while that to Titus was also written to a young minister. And Paul’s design appears to have been to give to each of them such instruction as would be needed to rightly do the work of the ministry to which they had been called by the Spirit of God. Underlying these instructions was the foundation-stone of prayer, since by no means would they be able to show themselves approved unto God, workmen that needed not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth, unless they were men of prayer.

The highest welfare of the Church of God on earth depends largely upon the ministry, and so Almighty God has always been jealous of His watchmen, His preachers. His concern has been for the character of the men who minister at His altars in holy things. They must be men who lean upon Him, who look to Him and continually seek Him for wisdom, help, and power to effectively do the work of the ministry. And so, He has designed men of prayer for the holy office, and has relied upon them successively to perform the tasks He has assigned them.

God’s great works are to be done as Christ did them; that is, they are to be done, indeed, with an increased power received from the ascended and exalted Christ. These works are to be done by prayer. Men must do God’s work in God’s way, and to God’s glory, therefore prayer is a prerequisite to its successful accomplishment.

The thing far above all other things in the means and equipment of the preacher is prayer. Before everything else, he must be a man who makes a specialty of prayer. A prayerless preacher is a misnomer. He has either missed his calling, or has grievously failed God who called him into the ministry. God wants men who are not ignoramuses, who study to show themselves approved. Preaching the Word is essential, and social qualities are not to be underestimated, likewise education is good: but under and above all else, prayer must be the main plank in the platform of the man who goes forth to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ to a lost and hungry world. The one weak spot in our Church institutions lies just here. Prayer often is not properly regarded as being the primary factor in church life and activity, and regrettably other things, though good in their appropriate places, have been made primary. First things need to be put first, the best before the good, and the first thing in the equipment of a minister is prayer.

Our Lord is the pattern for all preachers, and, with Him, prayer was the law of life. By it He lived. It was the inspiration of His toil, the source of His strength, the spring of His joy. With our Lord prayer was no sentimental episode, nor an afterthought, nor a pleasing, diverting prelude, nor an interlude, nor a parade or form. For Jesus, prayer was exacting, all-absorbing, paramount. It was the call of a sweet duty to Him, the satisfying of a restless yearning, the preparation for heavy responsibilities, and the meeting of a vigorous need. This being so, the disciple must be as his Lord, the servant as his Master. As was the Lord Himself, so also must be those whom He has called to be His disciples. Our Lord Jesus Christ chose His twelve Apostles only after He had spent a night in praying; and we may rest assured that He sets the same high value on those He calls to His ministry, in this our own day and time.

No feeble or secondary place was given to prayer in the ministry of Jesus. It comes first  emphatic, conspicuous, controlling. Of prayerful habits, of a prayerful spirit, given to long solitary communion with God, Jesus was above all else, a man of prayer. The crux of His earthly history, in New Testament terminology, is condensed to a single statement, to be found in Hebrews 5:7:

“Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears, unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared.”

As was their Lord and Master, whose they are and whom they serve, so let His ministers be. Let Him be their pattern, their example, their leader and teacher. Much reference is made in some quarters about following Christ, but it is confined to the following of Him in modes and ordinances, as if salvation were wrapped up in the specific way of doing a thing. The path of prayer Thyself has trod, is the path along which we are to follow Him, and in no other. Jesus was given as a leader to the people of God, and no leader ever exemplified more the worth and necessity of prayer. Equal in glory with the Father, anointed and sent on His special mission by the Holy Spirit, His incarnate birth, His high commission, His royal anointing, all these were His; but they did not relieve Him from the exacting claims of prayer. Rather did they tend to impose these claims upon Him with greater authority. He did not ask to be excused from the burden of prayer; He gladly accepted it, acknowledged its claims and voluntarily subjected Himself to its demands.

As His leadership was preeminent, His praying was preeminent. Had it not been, then neither His leadership had been preeminent nor divine. If, in true leadership, prayer had been dispensable, then certainly Jesus could have dispensed with it. But He did not, nor can any of His followers who desire effectiveness in their Christian activity than follow their Lord’s leadership in fulfilling their calling.

While Jesus Christ practiced praying Himself, being personally under the law of prayer, and while His parables and miracles were but exponents of prayer, He labored directly to teach His disciples the specific art of praying. He said little or nothing about how to preach or what to preach. But He spent His strength and time in teaching men how to speak to God, how to commune with Him, and how to be with Him. He knew full well that he who has learned the craft of talking to God, will be well versed in talking to men. We may turn aside for a moment to observe that this was the secret of the wonderful success of the early Methodist preachers, who were far from being learned men. But with all their limitations, they were men of prayer, and they did wonderful things for God.

All ability to talk to men is measured by the ability with which a preacher can talk to God for men. He who ploughs not in his closet, will never reap in his pulpit.

The fact must ever be kept in the forefront and emphasized that Jesus Christ trained His disciples to pray. This is the real meaning of that saying, “The Training of the Twelve.” It must be kept in mind that Christ taught the world’s preachers more about praying than He did about preaching. Prayer was the great factor in the spreading of His Gospel. Prayer conserved and made efficient all other factors. Yet He did not discount preaching when He stressed praying, but rather taught the utter dependence of preaching on prayer.

The Christian’s trade is praying, declared Martin Luther. Every Jewish boy had to learn a trade. Jesus Christ learned two, the trade of a carpenter, and that of praying. The one trade subserved earthly uses; the other served His divine and higher purposes. Jewish custom committed Jesus when a boy to the trade of a carpenter; and the law of God bound Him to praying from His earliest years, and remained with Him to the end.

Christ is the Christian’s example, and every Christian must pattern after Him. Every preacher must be like his Lord and Master, and must learn the trade of praying. He who learns well the trade of praying masters the secret of the Christian art, and becomes a skilled workman in God’s workshop, one who needs not to be ashamed, a worker together with his Lord and Master.

Pray without ceasing, is the trumpet call to the preachers of our time. If the preachers will get their thoughts clothed with the atmosphere of prayer, if they will prepare their sermons on their knees, a gracious outpouring of God’s Spirit will come upon the earth.

The one indispensable qualification for preaching and teaching is the gift of the Holy Spirit, and it was for the bestowal of this indispensable gift that the disciples were charged to “tarry in Jerusalem.” The absolute  necessity there is for receiving this gift, if success is to attend the efforts of their ministry, is found in the command the disciples received to stay in Jerusalem till they received it, as well as with the instant and earnest prayerfulness with which they sought it. In obedience to their Lord’s command to tarry in that city till they were endued with power from on high, they immediately, after He left them for heaven, entered on securing it by continued and earnest prayer. These all with one accord, continued steadfastly in prayer, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus and with his brethren. To this same thing John refers in his First Epistle. you have an unction from the Holy One, he says. It is this divine unction that preachers of the present day should sincerely desire, pray for, and remain unsatisfied till the blessed gift be likewise richly bestowed upon them.

Another allusion to this same important procedure is made by our Lord shortly after His resurrection, when He said to His disciples: And you shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you. At the same time Jesus directed the attention of His disciples to the statement of John the Baptist concerning the Spirit, the identical thing for which He had commanded them to tarry in the city of Jerusalem power from on high. Alluding to John the Baptist’s words Jesus said, For John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. Peter at a later date said of our Lord: God anointed him with the Holy Ghost and with power.

These are the divine statements of the mission and ministry of the Holy Spirit to preachers of that day, and the same divine statements apply with equal force to the preachers of this day. God’s ideal minister is a God-called, divinely anointed, Spirit-touched man, separated unto God’s work, set apart from secularities and questionable affairs, baptized from above, marked, sealed, and owned by the Spirit, devoted to his Master and His ministry. These are the divinely appointed requisites for a preacher of the Word; without them, he is inadequate, and inevitably unfruitful.

Today, there is no dearth of preachers who deliver eloquent sermons on the need and nature of revival, and advance elaborate plans for the spread of the kingdom of God, but the praying preachers are far rarer and the greatest benefactor this age can have is a man who will bring the preachers, the Church, and the people back to the practice of real praying. The reformer needed just now is the praying reformer. The leader Israel, the church, the family, requires is one who, with clarion voice, will call them all back to their knees.

There is considerable talk of the coming revival in the air, but we need to have the vision to see that the revival we need and the only one that can be worth having is one that is born of the Holy Spirit, which brings deep conviction for sin, and regeneration for those who seek God’s face. Such a revival comes at the end of a season of real praying, and it is utter folly to talk about or expect a revival without the Holy Spirit operating in His peculiar office, conditioned on much earnest praying. Such a revival will begin in pulpit and pew alike, and will be promoted by preacher and lay-man, both working in harmony with God.

The heart is the lexicon of prayer; the life the best commentary on prayer, and the outward bearing its fullest expression. The character is made by prayer; the life is perfected by prayer. And this the ministry needs to learn as thoroughly as the laymen. There is but one rule for both: for the church as well as the family.

So averse was the general body of Christ’s disciples to prayer, possessing so little taste for it, and consequently having so little sympathy with Him in the deep things of prayer and its mightier struggles, that the Master had to select a circle of three more apt scholars Peter, James, and John, who had more of sympathy and relish for this divine work, and take them aside that they might more thoroughly learn the lesson of prayer. Thus, these men were nearer to Jesus, fuller of sympathy, and more helpful to Him because they were more prayerful.

Blessed, indeed, are those disciples whom Jesus Christ, in this day, calls into a more intimate  fellowship with Him, and who, readily responding to the call, are found much on their knees before Him. Distressing, indeed, is the condition of those servants of Jesus who, in their hearts, are averse to the exercise of the ministry of prayer; for God would “that all men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands.

All the great eras of our Lord, historical and spiritual, were made or fashioned by His praying. In like manner His plans and great achievements were born in prayer and impregnated by the spirit thereof. As was the Master, so also must His servant be; as his Lord did in the great eras of His life, so should each disciple when confronted by important crises. “To your knees, O Israel!” should be the clarion-call to all who seek to minister for and unto the Lord of this generation.

The highest form of religious life is attained by prayer. The richest revelations of God Father, Son, and Spirit are made, not to the learned, the great or the noble of earth, but men of prayer. For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called, to whom God makes known the deep things of God, and reveals the higher things of His character, but to the lowly, inquiring, praying ones. And again, it must be said, that this is as true of preachers as of laymen, and the fathers as well as the mothers. It is the spiritual who prays, and these praying ones to whom God gives wisdom and strength, and makes His revelations known through the Holy Spirit.

Praying preachers have always brought the greater glory to God, have moved His Gospel onward with its greatest, speediest rate and power. A non-praying preacher and a non-praying Church may flourish outwardly and advance in many aspects of their life. Both preacher and church may become synonyms for success, but unless it rests on a regular  and faithful praying basis, what was gained becomes lost, and all successes eventually crumble into deadened life, forfeiture of peace and strength, and ultimate decay.

You have not because you ask not,” is the solution of all spiritual weakness both in the personal life and in the pulpit. Either that, or it is because “You ask and receive not because you ask amiss.” Real praying lies at the foundation of all real success of life and ministry in the things of God. The stability, energy and facility with which God’s kingdom is established in this world, and the life of every believer, are dependent upon prayer. God has made it so; and so, God is anxious for men to pray. Especially, He is concerned that His chosen ministers shall be men of prayer, and so gives that wonderful statement in order to encourage His ministers to pray, which is found in Matthew 6:9:

“But I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asks, receives, and he that seeks, finds; and to him that knocks, it shall be opened.”

Thus, both command and direct promise give accent to His concern that they shall pray. Pause and think on these familiar words of promise, “Ask, and it shall be given you.” That itself would seem to be enough to set us all, laymen and preachers, to praying, so direct, simple, and unlimited. These words open all the treasures of heaven to us, simply by asking for them.

If we have not studied the prayers of Paul, primarily a preacher to the Gentiles, we can have but a feeble view of the great necessity for prayer, and how much it is worth not only in the life and the work of a minister of the Gospel, but for the peace and success in the lives of every believer, great and small. Furthermore, we shall have but a very limited view of the possibilities of the Gospel to enrich and make strong and perfect Christian character, as well as to equip preachers for their high and holy task. Oh, when will we learn the simple yet all important lesson that the one great thing needed in the life of  the preacher and layman, to help them in their personal lives, to keep their souls vibrantly alive to God, and to give efficacy to the Word preached by both, and keep them from temptation and deliver them from evil, is real, faithful, and constant prayer!

Paul, with prayer uppermost in his mind, assures the Colossians that Epaphras is always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that you may stand complete and perfect in all the will of God. To this high state of grace, complete in all the will of God, he prays they may come. So prayer was the force which was to bring them to that elevated, vigorous and stable state of heart. This is in line with Paul’s teaching to the Ephesians, “And He gave some pastors and teachers, for the perfecting of  the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,” where it is evidently affirmed that the whole work of the ministry is not merely to induce sinners to repent, but it is also necessary for the perfecting of the saints. And so Epaphras labored fervently in prayers for this thing. Certainly, he was a praying man, in thus earnestly praying faithfully for these early Christians.

The Apostles put out their force in order that Christians should honor God by the purity and consistency of their outward lives. They were to reproduce the character of Jesus Christ. They were to perfect His image in themselves, imbibe His temper and reflect His carriage in all their tempers and conduct. They were to be imitators of God as dear children, to be holy as He was holy. Thus, even laymen were to preach by their conduct and character, just as the ministry preached with their mouths.

To elevate the followers of Christ to these exalted heights of Christian experience, they were in every way true in the ministry of God’s Word, in the ministry of prayer, in holy consuming zeal, in burning exhortation, in rebuke and reproof. Added to all these, sanctifying all these, invigorating all these, and making all of them salutary, they centered and exercised constantly the force of mightiest praying. Night and day praying exceedingly, that is, praying out of measure, with intense earnestness, superabundantly, beyond measure, exceeding abundantly.

“Night and day praying exceeding abundantly, that we might see your face, and might perfect that which is lacking in your faith. Now God himself, and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way unto you.

And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you; to the end he may establish your hearts unblamable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.”

It was after this fashion that these Apostles the first preachers in the early Church labored in prayer. And only those who labor after the same fashion are the true successors of these Apostles.

This is the true, Scriptural apostolical succession; the succession of simple faith, earnest desire for holiness of heart and life, and zealous praying. These are the things today which make both the ministry and family strong, the body and the individual, faithful and efficient, godly workmen who need not to be ashamed, rightly dividing and applying the word of truth.

Jesus Christ, God’s Leader and Commander of His people, lived and suffered under this law of prayer. Know this, all His personal conquests in His life on earth were won by obedience to this law, likewise all the conquests which have been won by His representatives since He ascended to heaven, are gained only when this condition of prayer are heartily and fully met. Christ was under this one prayer condition. His Apostles were under the same prayer condition. His saints are under it, and even His angels are under it. By every token, therefore, preachers are under the same prayer law. Not for one moment are they relieved or excused from obedience to the law of prayer. It is their very life, the source of their power, the secret of their religious experience and communion with God.

Christ could do nothing without prayer. Christ could do all things by prayer. The Apostles were helpless without prayer and were absolutely dependent upon it for success in defeating their spiritual foes. They could do all things by prayer, and such is true for every believer. Pray. Pray earnestly, Pray faithfully. Pray with out ceasing.

America will not be judged…

Posted: September 10, 2021 in Shared Thoughts
May be an image of text that says 'America will notbe be judged. America is under judgment right now.'

What is happening in America, even across the whole world, will not be stopped through the legal system of men, nor prevented by the morals of men, nor by the unity of some men, nor will the righteous prevail through the wisdom or weapons of men. Men must look to and be reconciled to God.

The Bible clearly shows over and over that God has used the undeniably wicked to chastise His own because of their unfaithfulness, that they might repent and be saved, while the wicked and rebellious perish. Furthermore, God has given no rights to those who are unfaithful, nothing to those who refuse to maintain their responsibility to love God with all their heart, soul, and might: nothing to those who choose to ignore and fail to keep His Commandments. Nevertheless, God has pity humanity’s desperate state, and because He is love He has afforded us a Savoir in Jesus Christ, and therefore has commanded all men to repent.

But rights, as everyone perceives them, are but gifts of God given unto those who respond properly to God. Adam only had a right to eat of every tree in the Garden of Eden, except one, because he was given responsibilities by God, “Tend to My garden.” While Adam was responsible, he had a right to eat. But upon his willful disobedience, that right was taken away and he was cast out.

To claim you have rights and yet reject God’s commandments is to be contentious and disobedient to God. What right have you then to any of His blessings? Jesus Himself tells us, “Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. For without are the dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.”

Judgment is a process.

It begins with many warnings, and comes to place where upon failing to be heeded, a shaking of everything that can be shaken takes place. Then, what was done in darkness is brought out to light, and what was said in secret begins to be shouted from the rooftops.

This God does so that, by seeing the deceitfulness of sin, men might learn to hate sin, and might abhor it, turn from it, and consequently yearn for righteousness and seek His face. God does this that men might repent. But repentance is not turning from bad ways, rather a total returning unto God. The first can be done partially without the latter, but not the latter without the first.

So, know this, judgment always precedes the mercy and grace which reconciles men to God; so that mercy might rejoice against judgment. But without our acknowledging the righteous judgment of God, there is a danger of God having judgment without mercy. Therefore, without true repentance, America will simply continue in its present judgment and ultimately come to the dreaded time when it will have to drink the full cup of God’s wrath.

But know this, “Judgment must begin in the House of God,” and we, God’s people in America, are currently in this stage of God’s judgment.

Therefore, I ask you, are you seeking first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness? Or are you angry over the abuse and loss of your perceived rights and prosperity? Are you ignorant of, or have you forgotten, that God has said, “Behold, ALL the nations…” including America, “are like a drop in a bucket, and are counted as the small dust  when weighed in the scales; behold, He takes up the coastlands as a very little thing.”

As judgment draws towards its conclusion, Jesus warns that the time also is advancing quickly when “he that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. For behold, I come quickly; and My reward is with Me, to give every man according as his work shall be.”

Live for the King, it’ll make it easier to die for Him.

What type of Christian are you?

Posted: September 10, 2021 in Shared Thoughts

In the world there have always been basically two types of Christians.

One type has many strong convictions, at least in the beginning. That is basically because when they first hear the Gospel and come to Christ, they seek Him to help them be the kind of Christian they should be. Naturally, He does. His spirit, the Spirit of Truth, begins by opening up and illuminating His word to them, revealing His will as to what is expected of them. Thus, they come under conviction of His Holy Spirit as He begins to expose those subtle things in their lives that are not compatible with His holiness, things contrary to His purpose and will, things therefore which consequently need to be either faithfully embraced or forsaken if they are to continue both to walk with and grow in Him.

1st John 1:7 – But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.

This Gospel truth reveals the critical “relationship” Christians need to maintain, a holy communion with Jesus Christ and God our Father, which is necessary if we are to walk, live, and worship in the Spirit of Truth. A Christian must be ever purposing to be yielding to God and abiding in Christ as He faithfully endeavors to make us His holy and “peculiar people.”

John 15:4 – Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it remains in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. 5 I am the Vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.

Romans 12:1 – I beseech you therefore brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, pleasing to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not [continue to] be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you might prove what is that good and pleasing and perfect will of God.

1st John 1:3 – That which we have seen and heard we declare unto you, so that you also may have fellowship with us, and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.

At first, there is usually a noble attempt to do the right thing, but because many have not truly surrendered fully to Christ, He can’t empower them so as to have victory over their sin, for they are not in truth wanting to “abide in” Him. For if He did empower them, it would in truth be disregarding their freewill, because in their hearts, having an affection still for the things of the world, they don’t really want to resist all the temptations in their lives. These are just like those who followed Christ only because He fed them with the bread and fish, and were willing to have Him as a King over them as long as He would continue to do so, but did not however want to eat of His flesh and drink of His blood. No, their hearts actually want to continue in their ways and be sustained by Him. They believed in Him, but in truth did not have faith in Him else they would have loved Him.

John 6:14 – Then seeing the miracle that Jesus did, those men said, “This is truly the Prophet, the One coming into the world.” 15 Therefore when Jesus perceived that they would come and take Him by force, that they might make Him a king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain alone by Himself… 26 Jesus answered them and said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, You seek Me not because you saw the miracles, but because you ate the loaves and were filled. 27 Do not labor for that food that perishes, but for that food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of man will give you. For God the Father sealed Him.”

In all this we can see the purpose why temptation is allowed in our lives; it serves to prove to oneself the trueness of their heart. We see this with Adam in the garden, for as long as he did not eat of the forbidden tree, he could know his love was faithful and true towards God. But by his choosing to eat the forbidden fruit, it revealed how his love for God could be deceived, and thus lessened and corrupted, and directed towards something or someone else. But did Adam fully understand all this at that moment, or did his eyes and carelessness allow him to be distracted and ensnared?

Even though these first type of Christians are convicted, like Adam they are distracted by the world and easily drawn back to their sins; for in truth, they do not believe their sins are deadly and therefore do not really want to give them up, at least not all. Therefore, being double minded, if they do not recognize the danger they are in, with time they will either completely fall away from Christ, or they will adjust their faith and just as the Pharisees did, they will merely become vainly religious. Like Adam, do you think they fully understood all this at that moment, or did their hearts and eyes and carelessness allow them to be so distracted and fatally ensnared? For such believers begin to simply justify themselves by comparing themselves to others, with those who they deem to be worse than they are. Without true faith and faithfulness, they will spend their life away arguing about doctrine, deceiving themselves that what they know will one day save them.

1st Corinthians 4:1 – Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2  Moreover it is required in stewards that a man be found faithful.

Romans 10:17 – So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by [or receiving into the heart] the word of God.

Romans 14:23 – For whatsoever is not of faith is sin.

James 2:19 – You believe that there is one God, you do well; even the demons believe and tremble. 20 But will you know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

These types of Christians are always in a struggle with their commitment, and thus will often try to negotiate with God by giving their time and money to noble causes or deeds; but what they do is done only in a vain hope of reaching a compromise with God. Such believers often make commitments to their church to oversee something for a season in a vain effort to show their seriousness and to prove their faith; but what they do is of their own will and choosing, not of the Spirit, right only in their own eyes, and not of faith.

But here is where we will now leave the struggling Christians and reflect upon the other type of Christians, the ones with true faith, the overcomers. The ones with true faith understand the truth where the Apostle John warned them to be not deceived; “He that sins is of the devil, and he that works righteousness is righteous even as He [Jesus] is righteous.”

Because God’s word is hid in their heart, they cannot consent to sin because they understand what an offense it is to the Holy Savior. Therefore, having looked unto Christ they can resist temptation, because coming to and abiding in Him, they are faithfully empowered by His Spirit and made to be overcomers of all pressures and temptation the world throws at them. This is always done at a cost to themselves, for Jesus warned them that they cannot be His disciples unless they choose to pick up their own crosses and follow Him. He makes this requirement because it is the only way He can fully restore their souls. But this restoration will take them down the path of righteousness winding through a dark valley haunted by the Shadow of Death, their death. God does this because He must tear down what is corrupt in them if He is to restore their souls aright, which requires their confessions and forsaking of sins, true repentance, an absolute trust and surrender to the Lord. Those who do such can only do so by that type of faith which compels them to lay hold of salvation, and is evident because it strives for consistency, perseveres, and works by love for the fulfilling of the will of their Redeemer.

They understand they were once dead in their trespasses and sins, so now they wholly trust Him, knowing that not only has He given them life, but that He is in truth their very life. They understand that to trust and obey Him is the only way to the realization and fulfillment of those exceeding great and precious promises to them of becoming partakers of His divine nature. Thus, they walk in the light just as He is the very author and means of that life; therefore, they have holy fellowship with their Father and Savior. Their hearts are settled and hence resolved to give heed to the purifying of their souls by obeying His truth, which is possible only through the empowerment of His Spirit within them. This is both believing unto salvation [justification] and working out salvation [sanctification]. These Christians, though always fully capable of yielding to sin, nevertheless purposely out of love for God and others now walk with conviction of righteousness and not under the condemnation of sin.

Sadly, Jesus said there were going to be many, many more of the first type of Christians. Those who will be found guilty of taking His name in vain. For scripture plainly say that they who call themselves Christians “ought to walk even as He walked.” These Christians are only “overcomers” in that they have overcome the conviction of sin; for while professing Christ as Savior they remain, or are entangled again, in sin because their conscience has been so seared it permits them to freely continue in doing what is right in their own eyes, and doing so they willfully sin. Not all go back into the moral depravity of their past lives, many, because of religious pride, simply become pharisaical and continue in the vanity of a religion of their own governance. Having chosen such over the truth, they continue to ignore that Jesus came, died, and rose again so that He might save them from their sins, quicken them, and make them new creatures. But how, if they will not let Him save them from their sins, can He truly save them from their sin’s reward of death and hell?

The latter Christians are indeed very few, Jesus said so. That is because they understand The Gate is a strait, and not straight. It is a path fraught with dangers whereby they must always be clothed with the armor of God and yielded to the commands and orders of the Captain of their Salvation. They understand He alone knows the narrow path that leads to eternal life, and being His sheep, they have learned to trust His voice as the Great Shepherd of their souls. Thus, they have tuned their ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to the Churches and will be overcomers of both their carnal nature and adversary. Why? Because they have come to love God with all their heart, mind, and strength, and have experienced through all their hardships that He is indeed able to sanctify them wholly, so that their whole spirit and soul and body might be preserved blameless unto the coming of their Lord, Jesus Christ. He is faithful.

So, which kind of Christian are you?

Jude 1:24 – Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, 25 To the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion, and power, both now and ever. Amen.

Yes, it all seems planned…

Posted: August 23, 2021 in Shared Thoughts

Duties of Fellowship

Posted: April 10, 2021 in Shared Thoughts

The book, originally titled by John Owen as “Eshcol,” has before been presented under the title of “Duties of Christian Fellowship.” Yet once again, it is being presented under the same title, as it was designed to present the whole Christian family those sound scriptural precepts from God’s word , or “rules” as Owen’s refers to them, on the subject of ecclesiastical fellowship and discipline.

The first part contains seven rules, which address the duties of members of a church towards their pastor. In the second part there are fifteen rules presented to the people of God on their duties to one another. It is of such a nature as to be applicable and useful under any form of ecclesiastical polity or denomination; as each rule is established from a body of evidence taken from Scripture, and followed with a general explanation attended by reasonable motives whereby the people of God ought to so live thereby.

The fact that there exist several editions of Owen’s “Eshcol” under many formats,  one cannot but wonder at its favorable reception with the religious public. Truly, it is a remark­able work of Owen which reveals his deep piety and sound judgment, which is presented to the reader in a simple rational arrangement, supported by a comprehensive knowledge of Scripture. Unquestionably, due to its sound foundation from God’s word, “Duties of Christian Fellowship” constructs a much-needed manual on church-fellowship, which to this day has yet to be surpassed.

This book written by John Owen, has so blessed me, that I edited it and attached the scriptures reference herein for the convenience of those who have a desire to help their church grow scripturally, and would also like to learn how to minister to each other effectually to the glory of their Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.

Simply click here to go to the book.



“Jesus closes His life with inimitable calmness, confidence, and sublimity. I have glorified Thee; I have finished the work which Thou gave Me to do. The annals of earth have nothing comparable to it in real security and sublimity. May we too come thus to our end, in supreme loyalty to Christ.” ~ Edward Bounds ~

We do well to consider our Lord’s Sacerdotal Prayer, as found recorded in the seventeenth chapter of John’s Gospel.

Obedience to the Father and abiding in the Father, these belong to the Son, and these belong to us, as partners with Christ in His Divine work of intercession. How tenderly, and with what pity, and how absorbingly does He pray for His disciples! “I pray for them; I pray not for the world.” What a pattern of prayerfulness for God’s people! For God’s people are God’s cause, God’s Church and God’s Kingdom. Pray for God’s people, for their unity, their sanctification, and their glorification. How the subject of their unity pressed upon Him! These walls of separation, these alienations, these riven circles of God’s family, and these warring tribes of ecclesiastics, oh how Christ is torn, and bleeds and suffers afresh at the sight of these divisions among His saints! Unity, that is the great burden of that remarkable Sacerdotal Prayer. “That they may be one, even as We are one.” The spiritual oneness of God’s people, that is the heritage of God’s glory to them, transmitted by Christ to His Church.

First of all, in this prayer, Jesus prays for Himself, not now the suppliant as in Gethsemane, not weakness, but strength now. There is not now the pressure of darkness and of hell, but passing for the time over the fearful interim, He asks that He may be glorified, and that His exalted glory may secure glory to His Father. His sublime loyalty and fidelity to God are declared, that fidelity to God which is of the very essence of interceding prayer. Devoted lives pray; for unswerving loyalty to God are eloquent pleas to Him, and give access and confidence in Christ our advocacy. This prayer is gemmed, but its walls are adamant. What profound and granite truths! What fathomless mysteries! What deep and rich experiences do such statements as these involve:

And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent. And all Mine are Thine, and Thine are Mine, and I am glorified in them. And I have declared unto them Thy name, and will declare it, that the love wherewith Thou hast loved Me may be in them, and I in them. And now, O Father, glorify Thou Me with Thine own self with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was.

Let us stop and ask, have we eternal life? Do we know God experimentally, consciously, and do we know Him really and personally? Do we know Jesus Christ as a person, and as a personal Saviour? Do we know Him by a heart acquaintance, and know Him well? This, this only, is eternal life. And is Jesus glorified in us? Let us continue this personal inquiry. Do our lives prove His divinity? And does Jesus shine brighter because of us? Are we opaque or transparent bodies, and do we darken or reflect His pure light? Once more let us ask: Do we seek God’s glory? Do we seek glory where Christ sought it? “Glorify Thou Me with Thy own self.” Do we esteem the presence and the possession of God our most excellent glory and our supreme good?

How closely does He bind Himself and His Father to His people! His heart centers upon them in this high hour of holy communion with His Father.

I have manifested Thy name unto the men which Thou gave Me out of the world; Thine they were, and Thou gave them Me; and they have kept Thy word. Now they have known that all things whatsoever Thou hast given Me are of Thee. For I have given unto them the words which Thou gave Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from Thee, and they have believed that Thou didst send Me. I pray for them; I pray not for the world; but for them which Thou hast given Me; for they are Thine. And all Mine are Thine, and Thine are Mine; and I am glorified in them.

He prays also for keeping for these disciples. Not only were they to be chosen, elected, and possessed, but were to be kept by the Father’s watchful eyes and by the Father’s omnipotent hand. “And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to Thee. Holy Father, keep through Thine own name those whom Thou hast given Me, that they may be one, as We are.”

He prays that they might be kept by the Holy Father, in all holiness by the power of His Name. He asks that His people may be kept from sin, from all sin, from sin in the concrete and sin in the abstract, from sin in all its shapes of evil, from all sin in this world. He prays that they might not only be fit and ready for Heaven, but ready and fit for earth, for its sweetest privileges, its sternest duties, its deepest sorrows, and its richest joys; ready for all of its trials, consolations, and triumphs. “I pray not that Thou should take them out of the world, but that Thou should keep them from the evil.

He prays that they may be kept from the world’s greatest evil, which is sin. He desires that they may be kept from the guilt, the power, the pollution, and the punishment of sin. The Revised Version makes it read, “That Thou should keep them from the evil one.” Kept from the devil, so that he might not touch them, nor find them, nor have a place in them; that they might be all owned, possessed, filled, and guarded by God. “Kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.

He places us in the arms of His Father, on the boom of His Father, and in the heart of His Father. He calls God into service, puts Him to the front, and places us under His Father’s closer keeping, under His Father’s shadow, and under the covert of His Father’s wing. The Father’s rod and staff are for our security, for our comfort, for our refuge, for our strength and guidance.

These disciples were not to be taken out of the world, but kept from its evil, its monster evil, which is itself. “This present evil world.” How the world seduces, dazzles, and deludes the children of men! His disciples are chosen out of the world, out of the world’s bustle and earthliness, out of its all-devouring greed of gain, out of its money-desire, money-love, and money-toil. Earth draws and holds as if it was made out of gold and not out of dirt, as though it was covered with diamonds and not with graves.

They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” Not only from sin and Satan were they to be kept, but also from the soil, stain, and the taint of worldliness, as Christ was free from it. Their relation to Christ was not only to free them from the world’s defiling taint, its unhallowed love, and its criminal friendships, but also from the world’s hatred which would inevitably follow their Christlikeness. No result so necessarily and universally follows its cause as this. “The world hath hated them because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

How solemn and almost awful the repetition of the declaration, “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” How pronounced, radical, and eternal was our Lord Christ’s divorce from the world! How pronounced, radical, and eternal is that of our Lord’s true followers from the world! The world hates the disciple as it hated his Lord, and will crucify the disciple just as it crucified his Lord. How pertinent the question, have we the Christ unworldliness? Does the world hate us as it hated our Lord? Are His words fulfilled in us?

If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love his own; but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

He puts Himself before us clear cut as the full portraiture of an unworldly Christian. Here is our changeless pattern. “They are not of the world even as I am not of the world.” We must be cut after this pattern.

The subject of their unity pressed heavily upon Him, for note how He called His Father’s attention to it, and see how He pleaded for this unity of His followers:

 “And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world and I come to Thee. Holy Father, keep through Thine own name those whom Thou hast given Me, that they may be one, as We are.

Again, He returns to it as He sees the great crowds flocking to His standard as the ages pass on:

That they all may be one; as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us; that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me. And the glory which Thou gave Me I have given them; that they may be one, even as We are one. I in them and Thou in Me that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that Thou hast sent Me, and hast loved them, as Thou hast loved Me.”

Notice how intently His heart was set on this unity. Yet what shameful history, and what bloody annals has this lack of unity written for God’s Church? These walls of separations, these alienations, these riven circles of God’s family, these warring tribes of men, and these internecine fratricidal wars! He looks ahead and sees how Christ is torn, how He bleeds and suffers afresh in all these sad things of the future. It is the unity of God’s people that is to be the heritage of God’s glory promised to them. Division and strife are the devil’s bequest to the Church, a heritage of failure, weakness, shame, and woe.

The oneness of God’s people was to be the one credential to the world of the divinity of Christ’s mission on earth. Let us ask in all candor, are we praying for this unity as Christ prayed for it? Are we seeking the peace, the welfare, the glory, the might, and the divinity of God’s cause, as it is meant to be found in the holy unity of God’s people?

Going back again, note please how He puts Himself as the exponent and the pattern of this unworldliness which He prays may possess His disciples. He sends them into the world just as His Father sent Him into the world. He expects them to be and do, just as He was and as He did for His Father. He sought the sanctification of His disciples that they might be wholly devoted to God and purified from all sin. He desired in them a holy life and a holy work for God. He devoted Himself to death in order that they might be devoted in life to God. For a true sanctification He prayed, a real, whole, and thorough sanctification, embracing soul, body and mind, for time and eternity.

With Him the word itself had much to do with their true sanctification. “Sanctify them through Thy truth; Thy word is truth. And for their sake I sanctify Myself, that they also might be sanctified by the truth.

Entire devotedness was to be the type of their sanctification. His prayer for their sanctification marks the pathway to full sanctification. Prayer is that pathway. All the ascending steps to that lofty position of entire sanctification are steps taken in prayer, with increasing prayerfulness in spirit, and increasing prayerfulness in fact. “Pray without ceasing” is the imperative prelude to “the very God of peace sanctify you wholly.” And prayer is but the continued interlude and doxology of this rich grace in the heart: “I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He that calls you, who also will do it.

We can only meet our full responsibilities, and fulfill our high mission, when we go forth sanctified as Christ our Lord was sanctified. He sends us into the world just as His Father sent Him into the world. He expects us to be as He was, to do as He did, and to glorify the Father just as He glorified the Father.

What longings He had, longings to have us with Him in Heaven: “Father, I will that they also whom Thou has given Me, be with Me where I am; that they may behold My glory which Thou has given Me.” What response do our truant hearts make to this earnest, loving, Christly longing? Are we as eager for Heaven as He is to have us there? How calm, how majestic, and how authoritative is His “I will!

Christ closes His life with inimitable calmness, confidence, and sublimity. “I have glorified thee on the earth; I have finished the work which Thou gave Me to do.” The annals of earth have nothing comparable to it in real serenity and sublimity. May we come to our end Thus, in supreme loyalty to Christ.

Written by E. M. Bounds

There is no question that God is mystical, for even scriptures confirms “great is the mystery of godliness.” But even greater than the mystical aspect of God, which exist only because of our own ignorance as finite beings, is the absolute Majesty of God. Over thirty years ago, after one of several major times of failings in my faith(fulness), God established a precept of faith in my life concerning faith, which has a sure foundation in His majesty and no footing in the mystical. The consequence of this revelation caused me to coin the phrase, “God is not mystical, He is majestic.”

Of course, many have rebuffed my comment, asking me if I think I fully know God and understand all His ways, to which of course I readily admit that I do not.  However, my comment was not stated with the wide spectrum with which the word “mystical” can be used, but primarily with the way it is most commonly used in these latter times whereby the unholy leaven of the New Age has been encroaching in upon the purity of the holy Gospel of Jesus Christ. For many understand mystical, or mystic, in the since of magical; not too differently than they understand sorcery and witchcraft. This “mystical” is the willful desire and attempt to manipulate the normal by “supernatural” means; through the use of chantings, spells and performance of certain rituals.

Many might think no such thing is happening within Christendom, but you would truly be surprise how many “obey the word” only to try and get what they want, instead of their obedience being a true delighting to do the will of God.

Psalm 40:8 – I delight to do Your will, O my God. Yea, Your law is within my heart.

Psalm 119:16 – I will delight myself in Your statutes: I will not forget Your word.

Psalm 119:47 – And I will delight myself in Your commandments, which I have loved.

Many “believers,” who are “ever learning” and never able to “come to a knowledge of the truth,” religiously say their prayers not too differently from those who do their mystical chantations, and close their prayers saying “in Jesus name.” as if it is the “cadabra” completing their “abracadabra.” They use Jesus name as a thing, and not as a sure testimony of their faith in His majestic authority and power over all things in their lives.

Hebrews 11:6 – But without faith it is impossible to please Him. For he that would come to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.

It is here alone where the faith of the Christian can rest secure and unshakable, in God’s absolute majesty, as well as in His holy character. For we are told in scripture that God is love, God is good, God is long-suffering, God is patient, God is all powerful, God’s mercies are as high as heaven, God is holy, and ultimately, that He is perfect in righteousness, rewarding those who properly and diligently seek Him. We are repeatedly taught and shown in scripture that we can be certain that the Judge of the whole Earth shall surely do that which is right concerning all things and all people.

Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?

This is the confidence of our faith, even when we do not understand the mysterious workings of the Lord. He alone is a holy and righteous God, who by His word discerns the very intent and motive of every heart, be it angelic or human; and in his Providence overrides the plans of the foolish for the eternal benefit of His own glory and creation.

Scripture assures mankind that God will purge the world of all evil, for evil is a temporary thing that cannot abide for eternity. Evil is not always wickedness, otherwise the scriptures would not mention how at times God purposed to do evil toward His own people.

Jeremiah 26:3 – If so be they will hearken, and turn every man from his evil way, that I may repent Me of the evil, which I purpose to do unto them because of the evil of their doings.

Evil is simply intent or performance of will, or the necessary action of a holy God, which are contrary to God’s preferred will. With men, it is their electing to do evil, even if it is “right and their own eyes.” With God, it is the administration of His righteous judgment. God will and must reward the contrary actions of men’s thoughts and actions, and conclude, or end all that is contrary to his Holiness and preferred will.

Jeremiah 24:6 For I will set Mine eyes upon them for good, and I will bring them again to this land: and I will build them, and not pull them down; and I will plant them, and not pluck them up.

Jeremiah 42:10 – If you will still abide in this land, then will I build you, and not pull you down, and I will plant you, and not pluck you up: for I repent me of the evil that I have done unto you.

It is God’s preferred will that no man perishes, and God clearly states He has no pleasure in the death of the wicked. Such is why we are told not only to “be holy,” but also to be “perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord,” for “without Holiness no man shall see God.”

Those that God has discerned to be righteous or evil of the world will be treated by Him very similarly the way our bodies treat that which we consume. For the most part, our digestive systems remove that which is beneficial for the strength and building up of the body, and that which cannot contribute to the body’s well-being is expelled as waste. Such is why the Bible says there is a difference between the wheat and the chaff, as well as the reference in Isaiah where God clearly says concerning his enemies, that He will ease Himself, which clarification from Deuteronomy.

Isaiah 1:24 – Therefore says the Lord, the LORD of hosts, the mighty One of Israel, “Ah, I will ease Me of Mine adversaries, and avenge Me of Mine enemies.”

Deuteronomy 23:12 – You shall have a place also without the camp, where you shall go forth abroad:  13 And you shalt have a paddle upon your weapon; and it shall be, when you ease yourself there, you shall dig therewith, and turn back and cover that which came from you. 14 For the LORD your God walks in the midst of your camp to deliver you, and to give up your enemies before you. Therefore, your camp shall be holy, that He see no unclean thing in you and turn away from you.

These verses are intended to give mankind clear warning that the time is coming when God will forever ease Himself by removing from His holy presence all who would not faithfully be assimilated into His Kingdom. Such is the purpose of His majestic great white throne of judgment; for the Lord has stated He will reward both the righteous and the wicked according to their works and make both a new heaven and a new Earth wherein only the righteous can dwell. Such wording warns that there indeed is a pit called hell for the wicked to be shunned.

Romans 2:4 – Do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? 5 But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, 6 who “will render to each one according to his deeds”: 7 eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality. 8 But for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, [they have only God’s] indignation and wrath, 9 tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek; 10 but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 11 For there is no partiality with God.

It is not in the mystical things pertaining to God, but in all His divine attributes, whereby we are to learn and see that He is indeed wholly worthy of all glory, honor, power, and praise. For it is evident that God so loved the world in that He gave us His only begotten Son, that we all might be saved from our sin, and not merely delivered from hell. Hell is the righteous consequence of sin remaining in us, and heaven the reward for whosoever truly believes Him, and not just “in” Him; with the distinction being the surrendering of their lives to Him, serving Him for who He is, and trusting that He will do all He has promised to do. Those who so do alone have the surety of God’s word of being saved from the wrath to come. This is the truth that sets men free, and if Jesus sets you free, you are free indeed. Go with purpose to sin no more while trusting only in the righteousness of Jesus Christ.

How can anyone think all this is not the greatest testimony of God’s grace and His mercies? Again, such as why we are told we must be holy, for without holiness no man shall stand before God on favorable terms. Absolutely, our holiness is founded alone upon the atoning blood of Jesus Christ who died for our sins, but our holiness is then to be perfected, or made complete through faith. True holiness is evident by works of righteousness, which alone brings forth fruit unto holiness; and holiness has its promised end, everlasting life. There is no other foundation that can be laid for the salvation of man, and we are all warned to take heed how we build upon that foundation. God gave us His Son to forgive us for our sins with the purpose and intent that we should become partakers of His divine nature.

Romans 6:22 – But now being made free from sin and have become servants to God, you now have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.

John 8:31 – Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, “If you continue [abide] in My word, then are you My disciples indeed. 32 And [then] you shall [truly] know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

John 15:7 – If you abide [continue] in Me, and My words abide [continue] in you, you may ask what you will and it shall be done for you. 8 Herein is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit [abound in holiness]; for then you shall be My disciples.

So, I ask the following for your honest and prayerful consideration, are you trusting only in the omnipotent Majesty and wisdom of God who has afforded all mankind such a bounty of His mercy and grace? Or are you foolishly hoping that, somewhere in the mystical aspects of godliness, you will not be found to be abiding among the worthless chaff instead of with the wheat?

You must choose to follow Christ, and that requires you to pick up your own cross and deny yourself, if you are to truly be one of His disciples. For a disciple is one who endeavors to live under the discipline of his Master and chooses not to do what is right in their own eyes. Therefore, we must acknowledge our own nearsighted wisdom, the vanity of our emotions and appetites, and follow Jesus Christ in the light of His words. Knowing the certainty of eternity, where will you spend yours?

You must be born again. You must become a new creature. You must be holy. To be such you must purposely co-labor with God’s Holy Spirit and put on Christ. You must learn how to “obey the truth through the Spirit” if Christ is ever going to truly acknowledge that the kingdom of God was indeed in you. You need an ear to hear what the Spirit is saying to the Churches if you are going to be among the overcomers in Christ. The overcomers have the yea and the amen of God’s promises in Christ.

Are you fighting the fight of faith? Are you running the race as if only one person can win it? Are you seeking to complete that for which God created you? Are you striving to accomplish the purposed for which you were saved? Are you acknowledging His promise that in Jesus Christ all is afforded to you, both the wherewithal and instructions to finish the unique work He has chosen you to do? No one is born into this world without a divine calling and purpose whereby they can serve God and truly be His delight; wherein He will Joy over them with singing and resting eternally in His love for them.

So, do you have His Spirit within you? For Christ in us is our only hope of glory, and if any do not have the Spirit of Christ in them, they are not His. To be a Christian is like being six months pregnant, you know something is growing in you, and there is a joyful anticipation that a new life will soon burst forth.

1 John 3:24 – They that keep His commandments dwell in Him, and He in them. And hereby we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit which He has given us.

Please, consider what manner of person you are, and the direction you have been living your life. Are your eyes set on eternity and heavenly things, or on the worldly here and now things? For know this, those who have true faith and trust in the King of Glory will purposely live for the glory of the King. Is this you?

Everybody enjoys hearing about how “Jesus is a God of love,” and undeniably many sermons entitled “God is love” have brought much needed comfort to the heart of the truly repentant. Nonetheless, while these statements are certainly true, as believers we must remember that they are not complete statements of truth. An unwavering truth is that God is no respecter of persons and sometimes the holiness and righteousness of God requires a change in His posture with individuals, a concept some believers have a hard time believing. But consider the following two verses.

“And it shall come to pass, that as the LORD rejoiced over you to do you good, and to multiply you; so the LORD will rejoice over you to destroy you, and to bring you to nought; and ye shall be plucked from off the land whither thou goest to possess it,” (Deuteronomy 28:63).

“After the number of the days in which ye searched the land . . . ye bear your iniquities, even forty years, and ye shall know my breach of promise,” (Numbers 14:34).

Certainly, God is a God of love, yet in Rev. 2:6 Jesus said “. . . this thou hast that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate.” Again in Proverbs it says, “These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto Him: a proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, a false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among the brethren.” Now, I am not trying to present God as a God of hate, just establish the fact that God is capable of hate.

If God’s people are to have true intimacy with Jesus Christ, coupled with a righteous boldness (not a religious cockiness), then we need a basic understanding of God’s precepts. Jesus conditionally told His disciples, “IF ye continue in My word, THEN are ye My disciples indeed; (THEN) ye shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” (John 8:31, 32). Jesus was not referring to the truth as certain “facts” which could liberate them. The truth He was referring to was Himself. Jesus said “I am the way, the TRUTH, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father except by Me” (John 14:6). Jesus Christ is the polestar of all truth. If we are going to be “set” free then it is Jesus Christ personally who we must seek to know, not just mere biblical and historical facts. For “if the Son therefore shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.” (John 8:36).

While God is perfect in the administration of His love, the Bible does say He still “judgeth the righteous, and is angry with the wicked every day,” (Psalm 7:11). It is this foundational precept that gives us understanding as to why, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,” (Proverbs 1:7, 9:11).

Proverbs 8:13 says “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil: [therefore] pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the forward mouth do I hate.” Proverbs 16:6 says “By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the Lord men depart from evil.” Therefore, if believers are to live harmoniously with God they must strive to live according to the scriptures, “perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” We must abhor sin and all unrighteousness, no matter how slight it’s deviation from the truth, for “ALL unrighteousness is SIN,” (I John 5:17). This at times is very hard to do since we are often so easily deceived by the pleasures of sin. Of course, this certainly does not mean we are to be hating “sinners,” but rather the sin that has found root in their lives and hearts as if it were hell’s own death grip on them.

To further clarify the attributes of “God’s love” a contrast needs to be made between our natural humanistic “love” and God’s “righteous love.” Humanistic love (due to man’s fallen nature) is both erratic and temperamental. It changes with circumstances or emotions and often ceases without any apparent reason other than loss of interest. Humanistic love rarely subscribes to logic and when found to be so; it is only aligned with the laws of God out of coincidence and not truly governed thereby. When shaken and unsettled, it usually can only be tranquilized by a self-favorable compromise.

Humanistic love usually has a high toleration of sin in another when something desirable for self might be obtained, or else their sins may not likewise be tolerated. If there is no personal profit to be had, then the response is usually judgment and criticism. “For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these not having a law, are a law unto themselves: which show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the meanwhile accusing or else excusing one another” (Romans 2:14,15).

Contrary to fallen man’s own love, the love of God is not governed by His emotions, but is directed by His righteousness. This is clearly seen in Matthew 23:37, “0 Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee, how often I would have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold your house is left unto you desolate.” Had God’s love been controlled and subject to emotions, He would have forgiven everybody. He would have gathered them (with all their wickedness) unto Himself whether they repented or not. But God’s love transcends emotions and is founded in holiness and truth.

Likewise, our emotions are God given and can work for good when they’re used correctly as the expressions of our hearts and not the rulers of our lives. Paul instructed the Corinthians saying “the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they have none; and they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possess not; and they that use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passeth away.” Certainly Paul wasn’t forbidding marriage any more than he forbidding us to weep or rejoice. Rather, he was warning us not to allow ourselves to be controlled by our marital statuses, emotions, possessions, or the world.

If we are to fully answer God’s call to be holy as He is holy, we must cease to be ruled by our emotions and seek, ask and knock in diligent pursuit of knowing God and His will in our lives. We are to be ruled by His righteousness and live to fulfill His will, not our own. If we foolishly continue to indulge ourselves in the luxury of self-government we jeopardize our relationship with God an run the risk of being unfruitful.

2 Peter 1:8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

“Righteous love” in one’s life is evidence of a contemplated surrender to God and His will. Since true love is governed by the authority of the Holy Scriptures, it is not easily swayed by human emotions, but still enjoys full emotional expression. This kind of holy love is conceived in our minds as a result of a personal conviction and revelation of God’s love for us, and birthed into being through the surrender of our hearts.

1Peter 1:22 Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:
23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

Jesus reminds us that true love is undeniably evident by our obedience as we see in John and carries with it the promise of reward.

John 14:21 He that hath My commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me: and he that loveth Mme shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest Myself to him.
22 Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?
23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep My words: and My Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make Our abode with him.
24 He that loveth Me not keepeth not My sayings . . .

Just like faith and hope, righteous love is based upon and therefore governed by God’s word, for God has said, “Come now and let us reason [intellectually] together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If ye are willing and obedient [surrender in your hearts], ye will eat the good of the land: but if ye refuse and rebel, ye will be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it.”

Absolutely, God commands us to love one another and for that love to be effective it must be within the confines of God’s will as revealed by His word. We must remember that “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God,” and that faith “works by love,” (Ro. 10:17, Gal. 5:6). While we are to be longsuffering with immaturity, ignorance and other human frailties and limitations, we must not and cannot tolerate willful sin in ourselves or in each other. If one is overtaken by a fault, then those who are able to instruct must go and do so. If such a one defiantly rebels against God, he is to be rebuked. Should he repent of his wickedness, then let him be forgiven and embraced as a brother. If he doesn’t, he should be removed from the fellowship of believers for he has obstinately forfeited his fellowship with God, for what fellowship has light with darkness? None.

Nowadays, too many believers are being seduced into accepting a “feeling” as love. Because they found acceptance in a church social circle, they are deceived into believing a spirit of churchianity as true Christianity. Love is more than a feeling of warmth, such a feeling is often no more than emotional satisfaction. Since they “feel” good where they are, they are persuaded this is evidence of righteous love. Yet righteous love is maintains an uncompromising commitment to God, His precepts and His church. Remember it is not what we “feel” at a church that confirms truth, but what we hear, “For the word of God . . . is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

Likewise, Mercy is too often presumed to be something it’s not. Mercy is a fruit of love, yet, like love for mercy to be effective and redemptive it too must be founded in the righteous judgments of God. People often mistake mercy to be a softness or tenderness exhibited toward someone, or they mistake longsuffering for mercy. These are actually compassion, kindness and gentleness. Mercy is not suffering the consequences of one’s sins which they truly deserve. It is the pardon for an offence which as been exposed, acknowledged, and repented of.

Before the mercy of a pardon can happen however, there needs to be a conviction of righteous judgment first. This too is where many mistake God’s judgment for His wrath, but these are two distinctly different events. God’s judgment is the accurate evaluation of one’s life in light of His righteousness. Should one be found contrary to God as revealed through His word and yet truly repent, pardon is then possible inasmuch as the law was satisfied by the shedding of Christ’s blood. But, when one is evaluated to be a transgressor and refuses to turn from his wicked deed, Jesus Christ re-dying again on ten thousand crosses would not save him, all he has to look forward to is wrath, or “judgment without mercy.”

One must acknowledge his transgressions for what they are with a true godly sorrow and by departing from his sin. The only time an immediate departure from sin may not be required is if it is due to ignorance as a direct result of natural (not willful) Christian immaturity. Therefore, the believer is instructed to diligently seek the will of God in their lives.

2Pe 1:5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;
7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.
8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that [or why] he was purged from his old sins.
10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:
11 For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

If we are to effectively love one another so as to minister to and build each other up, we must each devote ourselves to the knowing of both God and His word. We must never compromise our convictions of truth for the sake of church unity, yet we must never cease to labor in love for it. We must dig deep and seek the solid ground of truth, not common ground. While we are commanded to be both submitted and committed to each other in the fear of the Lord, we are not to be not loyal. Loyalty to a man will eventually result in a sinful compromise. We can not afford to “love” anyone, family or otherwise, so much that we unwittingly cast away our pearl of great price. Yes, we can and should suffer long with the frailties of each other and/or with the fallen condition of one seeking the truth, but not with a stubborn hypocrite. Effective and redemptive mercy always requires a surrender to the true evaluation of one’s condition by both the Spirit and Word of God.


“Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” (Proverbs 27:6)

“He that rebuketh a man afterwards shall find more favour than he that flattereth with the tongue.” (Proverbs 28:23)

“By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments: and His commandments are not grievous.”
(1 John 5:1,2)


A besetting sin…

Posted: June 19, 2020 in Shared Thoughts

Perhaps, the greatest hinderance to a Christian’s effectiveness as being true salt and light for God’s kingdom in this world stems from a carnally sympathetic and humanistic understanding of the emotions and troubles of the lost. When a believer fails to remain fearfully sided absolutely and wholeheartedly with God by maintaining a clear understanding of the righteous anger of God with the wicked every day, they lose sight of why God has commanded every man to repent and thus become useless to the Holy Spirit as a godly means of conviction to the wicked.

Apart from God, there is no good thing in any man, for God alone is good. Being separated from Christ, all men must recognize they are not merely sick and downtrodden, but are in truth dead, alienated from the life of God, and without any hope. Until the sinner comes to the absolute awareness and acknowledgement that they are wicked, and in a lost and desperate condition, they will never truly surrender or cry out for that grace and saving faith from He who alone can save them.

God intends Christians to be holy that they might be part of that convicting grace which works to cause the sinner to realize they alone are responsible for their woes, and that Jesus Christ and God alone their only hope.

Sympathetic understanding is a dangerous flaw in the heart and mind of a believer because it causes them to partially justify the wicked in their rebellion against God, and worse, it holds God partially accountable for the continuation of their life’s woes. When you sympathize with the sinner, you lose sight of the righteousness in the wrath of God and thus cease to be capable of righteous judgment and recognizing sin; as now you have in part become emotionally sided with the wicked and guilty of not completely accepting all the judgments of God as being righteous and true altogether.

We need to be ever perfecting holiness in the fear of God, which we will never do until we fearfully, absolutely and wholeheartedly, accept and stand unwavering with God’s word in its defining sin and His judgments of holding all accountable for their actions.

Awake unto righteousness and sin not, for some of you have not the knowledge of God; and I speak this to your shame.

The Cost

Posted: May 23, 2020 in Shared Thoughts

(Note: this is a chapter from John C Ryles’ book “Holiness”)

“Which of you, intending to build a house, does not sit down first and count the cost?” – Luke xiv. 28.

The text which heads this page is one of great importance. Few are the people who are not often obliged to ask themselves – “What does it cost?”

In buying property, in building houses, in furnishing rooms, in forming plans, in changing dwellings, in educating children, it is wise and prudent to look forward and consider. Many would save themselves much sorrow and trouble if they would only remember the question – “What does it cost?”

But there is one subject on which it is especially important to “count the cost.” That subject is the salvation of our souls. What does it cost to be a true Christian? What does it cost to be a really holy man? This, after all, is the grand question. For want of thought about this, thousands, after seeming to begin well, turn away from the road to heaven, and are lost forever in hell. Let me try to say a few words which may throw light on the subject.

I.     I will show, firstly, what it costs to be a true Christian.

II.   I will explain, secondly, why it is of such great importance to count the cost.

III.  I will give, in the last place, some hints which may help men to count the cost rightly.

We are living in strange times. Events are hurrying on with singular rapidity. We never know “what a day may bring forth”; how much less do we know what may happen in a year! – We live in a day of great religious profession. Scores of professing Christians in every part of the land are expressing a desire for more holiness and a higher degree of spiritual life. Yet nothing is more common than to see people receiving the Word with joy, and then after two or three years falling away, and going back to their sins. They had not considered “what it costs” to be a really consistent believer and holy Christian. Surely these are times when we ought often to sit down and “count the cost,” and to consider the state of our souls. We must mind what we are about. If we desire to be truly holy, it is a good sign. We may thank God for putting the desire into our hearts. But still the cost ought to be counted. No doubt Christ’s way to eternal life is a way of pleasantness. But it is folly to shut our eyes to the fact that His way is narrow, and the cross comes before the crown.

I. I have, first, to show what it costs to be a true Christian.

Let there be no mistake about my meaning. I am not examining what it costs to save a Christian’s soul. I know well that it costs nothing less than the blood of the Son of God to provide an atonement, and to redeem man from hell. The price paid for our redemption was nothing less than the death of Jesus Christ on Calvary. We “are bought with a price.” “Christ gave Himself a ransom for all.” (1 Corinthians vi. 20; 1 Timothy ii. 6.)

But all this is wide of the question. The point I want to consider is another one altogether. It is what a man must be ready to give up if he wishes to be saved. It is the amount of sacrifice a man must submit to if he intends to serve Christ. It is in this sense that I raise the question, “What does it cost?” And I believe firmly that it is a most important one.

I grant freely that it costs little to be a mere outward Christian. A man has only got to attend a place of worship twice on Sunday, and to be tolerably moral during the week, and he has gone as far as thousands around him ever go in religion. All this is cheap and easy work: it entails no self-denial or self-sacrifice. If this is saving Christianity, and will take us to heaven when we die, we must alter the description of the way of life, and write, “Wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to heaven!”

But it does cost something to be a real Christian, according to the standard of the Bible. There are enemies to be overcome, battles to be fought, sacrifices to be made, an Egypt to be forsaken, a wilderness to be passed through, a cross to be carried, a race to be run. Conversion is not putting a man in an arm-chair and taking him easily to heaven. It is the beginning of a mighty conflict, in which it costs much to win the victory. Hence arises the unspeakable importance of “counting the cost.”

Let me try to show precisely and particularly what it costs to be a true Christian. Let us suppose that a man is disposed to take service with Christ, and feels drawn and inclined to follow Him. Let us suppose that some affliction, or some sudden death, or an awakening sermon, has stirred his conscience, and made him feel the value of his soul and desire to be a true Christian. No doubt there is everything to encourage him. His sins may be freely forgiven, however many and great. His heart may be completely changed, however cold and hard. Christ and the Holy Spirit, mercy and grace, are all ready for him. But still he should count the cost. Let us see particularly, one by one, the things that his religion will cost him.

(1)         For one thing, it will cost him his self-righteousness. He must cast away all pride and high thoughts, and conceit of his own goodness. He must be content to go to heaven as a poor sinner saved only by free grace, and owing all to the merit and righteousness of another. He must really feel as well as say the Prayer-book words – that he has “erred and gone astray like a lost sheep,” that he has “left undone the things he ought to have done, and done the things he ought not to have done, and that there is no health in him.” He must be willing to give up all trust in his own morality, respectability, praying, Bible-reading, church-going, and sacrament-receiving, and to trust in nothing but Jesus Christ.

Now this sounds hard to some. I do not wonder. “Sir,” said a godly ploughman to the well-known James Hervey, of Weston Favell, “it is harder to deny proud self than sinful self. But it is absolutely necessary.” Let us set down this item first and foremost in our account. To be a true Christian it will cost a man his self-righteousness.

(2)         For another thing, it will cost a man his sins. He must be willing to give up every habit and practice which is wrong in God’s sight. He must set his face against it, quarrel with it, break off from it, fight with it, crucify it, and labor to keep it under, whatever the world around him may say or think. He must do this honestly and fairly. There must be no separate truce with any special sin which he loves. He must count all sins as his deadly enemies, and hate every false way. Whether little or great, whether open or secret, all his sins must be thoroughly renounced. They may struggle hard with him every day, and sometimes almost get the mastery over him. But he must never give way to them. He must keep up a perpetual war with his sins. It is written – “Cast away from you all your transgressions.” – “Break off thy sins and iniquities.” – “Cease to do evil.” – (Ezekiel xviii. 31; Daniel iv. 27; Isaiah i. 16.)

This also sounds hard. I do not wonder. Our sins are often as dear to us as our children: we love them, hug them, cleave to them, and delight in them. To part with them is as hard as cutting off a right hand, or plucking out a right eye. But it must be done. The parting must come. “Though wickedness be sweet in the sinner’s mouth, though he hides it under his tongue; though he spares it, and forsake it not,” yet it must be given up, if he wishes to be saved. (Job xx. 12, 13.) He and sin must quarrel, if he and God are to be friends. Christ is willing to receive any sinners. But He will not receive them if they will stick to their sins. Let us set down that item second in our account. To be a Christian it will cost a man his sins.

(3)         For another thing, it will cost a man his love of ease. He must take pains and trouble, if he means to run a successful race towards heaven. He must daily watch and stand on his guard, like a soldier on enemy’s ground. He must take heed to his behavior every hour of the day, in every company, and in every place, in public as well as in private, among strangers as well as at home. He must be careful over his time, his tongue, his temper, his thoughts, his imagination, his motives, his conduct in every relation of life. He must be diligent about his prayers, his Bible-reading, and his use of Sundays, with all their means of grace. In attending to these things, he may come far short of perfection; but there is none of them that he can safely neglect. “The soul of the sluggard desires, and has nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat.” (Proverbs xiii. 4.)

This also sounds hard. There is nothing we naturally dislike so much as “trouble” about our religion. We hate trouble. We secretly wish we could have a “vicarious” Christianity, and could be good by proxy, and have everything done for us. Anything that requires exertion and labor is entirely against the grain of our hearts. But the soul can have “no gains without pains.” Let us set down that item third in our account. To be a Christian it will cost a man his love of ease.

(4)         In the last place, it will cost a man the favor of the world. He must be content to be thought ill of by man if he pleases God. He must count it no strange thing to be mocked, ridiculed, slandered, persecuted, and even hated. He must not be surprised to find his opinions and practices in religion despised and held up to scorn. He must submit to be thought by many a fool, an enthusiast, and a fanatic – to have his words perverted and his actions misrepresented. In fact, he must not marvel if some call him mad. The Master says – “Remember the word that I said unto you, ‘The servant is not greater than his lord.’ If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept My saying, they will keep yours also.” (John xv. 20.)

I dare say this also sounds hard. We naturally dislike unjust dealing and false charges, and think it very hard to be accused without cause. We should not be flesh and blood if we did not wish to have the good opinion of our neighbors. It is always unpleasant to be spoken against, and forsaken, and lied about, and to stand alone. But there is no help for it. The cup which our Master drank must also be drunk by His disciples; they too must be “despised and rejected of men.” (Isaiah liii. 3.) Let us set down that item last in our account. To be a Christian it will cost a man the favor of the world.

Such is the account of what it costs to be a true Christian. I grant the list is a heavy one. But where is the item that could be removed? Bold indeed must that man be who would dare to say that we may keep our self-righteousness, our sins, our laziness, and our love of the world, and yet be saved!

I grant it costs much to be a true Christian. But who in his sound senses can doubt that it is worth any cost to have the soul saved? When the ship is in danger of sinking, the crew think nothing of casting overboard the precious cargo. When a limb is mortified, a man will submit to any severe operation, and even to amputation, to save life. Surely a Christian should be willing to give up anything which stands between him and heaven. A religion that costs nothing is worth nothing! A cheap Christianity, without a cross, will prove in the end a useless Christianity, without a crown.

II. I have now, in the second place, to explain why “counting the cost” is of such great importance to man’s soul.

I might easily settle this question by laying down the principle, that no duty instructed by Christ can ever be neglected without damage. I might show how many shut their eyes throughout life to the nature of saving religion, and refuse to consider what it really costs to be a Christian. I might describe how at last, when life is ebbing away, they wake up, and make a few spasmodic efforts to turn to God. I might tell you how they find to their amazement that repentance and conversion are no such easy matters as they had supposed, and that it costs “a great sum” to be a true Christian. They discover that habits of pride and sinful indulgence, and love of ease, and worldliness, are not so easily laid aside as they had dreamed. And so, after a faint struggle, they give up in despair, and leave the world hopeless, graceless, and unfit to meet God! They had flattered themselves all their days that religion would be easy work when they once took it up seriously. But they open their eyes too late, and discover for the first time that they are ruined because they never “counted the cost.”

But there is one class of persons to whom especially I wish to address myself in handling this part of my subject. It is a large class – an increasing class – and a class which in these days is in peculiar danger. Let me in a few plain words try to describe this class. It deserves our best attention.

The persons I speak of are not thoughtless about religion: they think a good deal about it. They are not ignorant of religion: they know the outlines of it pretty well. But their great defect is that they are not “rooted and grounded” in their faith. Too often they have picked up their knowledge second hand, from being in religious families, or from being trained in religious ways, but have never worked it out by their own inward experience. Too often they have hastily taken up a profession of religion under the pressure of circumstances, from sentimental feelings, from animal excitement, or from a vague desire to do like others around them, but without any solid work of grace in their hearts. Persons like these are in a position of immense danger. They are precisely those, if Bible examples are worth anything, who need to be exhorted “to count the cost.”

For want of “counting the cost” myriads of the children of Israel perished miserably in the wilderness between Egypt and Canaan. They left Egypt full of zeal and fervor, as if nothing could stop them. But when they found dangers and difficulties in the way, their courage soon cooled down. They had never reckoned on trouble. They had thought the promised land would be all before them in a few days. And so, when enemies, privations, hunger, and thirst began to try them, they murmured against Moses and God, and would fain have gone back to Egypt. In a word, they had “not counted the cost,” and so lost everything, and died in their sins.

For want of “counting the cost,” many of our Lord Jesus Christ’s hearers went back after a time, and “walked no more with Him.” (John vi. 66.) When they first saw His miracles, and heard His preaching, they thought “the kingdom of God would immediately appear.” They cast in their lot with His Apostles, and followed Him without thinking of the consequences. But when they found that there were hard doctrines to be believed, and hard work to be done, and hard treatment to be borne, their faith gave way entirely, and proved to be nothing at all. In a word, they had not “counted the cost,” and so made shipwreck of their profession.

For want of “counting the cost,” King Herod returned to his old sins, and destroyed his soul. He liked to hear John the Baptist preach. He “observed” and honored him as a just and holy man. He even “did many things” which were right and good. But when he found that he must give up his darling Herodias, his religion entirely broke down. He had not reckoned on this. He had not “counted the cost.” (Mark vi. 20.)

For want of “counting the cost,” Demas forsook the company of St. Paul, forsook the Gospel, forsook Christ, forsook heaven. For a long time, he journeyed with the great Apostle of the Gentiles, and was actually a “fellow-laborer.” But when he found he could not have the friendship of this world as well as the friendship of God, he gave up his Christianity and clave to the world. “Demas hath forsaken me,” says St. Paul, “having loved this present world.” (2 Timothy iv. 10.) He had not “counted the cost.”

For want of “counting the cost,” the hearers of powerful Evangelical preachers often come to miserable ends. They are stirred and excited into professing what they have not really experienced. They receive the Word with a “joy” so extravagant that it almost startles old Christians. They run for a time with such zeal and fervor that they seem likely to outstrip all others. They talk and work for spiritual objects with such enthusiasm that they make older believers feel ashamed. But when the novelty and freshness of their feelings is gone, a change comes over them. They prove to have been nothing more than stony-ground hearers. The description the great Master gives in the Parable of the Sower is exactly exemplified. “Temptation or persecution arises because of the Word, and they are offended.” (Matthew xiii. 21.) Little by little their zeal melts away, and their love becomes cold. By and by their seats are empty in the assembly of God’s people, and they are heard of no more among Christians. And why? They had “never counted the cost.”

For want of “counting the cost,” hundreds of professed converts, under religious revivals, go back to the world after a time, and bring disgrace on religion. They begin with a sadly mistaken notion of what is true Christianity. They fancy it consists in nothing more than a so-called “coming to Christ,” and having strong inward feelings of joy and peace. And so, when they find, after a time, that there is a cross to be carried, that our hearts are deceitful, and that there is a busy devil always near us, they cool down in disgust, and return to their old sins. And why? Because they had really never known what Bible Christianity is. They had never learned that we must “count the cost.” [*9]

For want of “counting the cost,” the children of religious parents often turn out ill, and bring disgrace on Christianity. Familiar from their earliest years with the form and theory of the Gospel – taught even from infancy to repeat great leading texts – accustomed every week to be instructed in the Gospel, or to instruct others in Sunday schools – they often grow up professing a religion without knowing why, or without ever having thought seriously about it. And then when the realities of grown-up life begin to press upon them, they often astound every one by dropping all their religion, and plunging right into the world. And why? They had never thoroughly understood the sacrifices which Christianity entails. They had never been taught to “count the cost.”

These are solemn and painful truths. But they are truths. They all help to show the immense importance of the subject I am now considering. They all point out the absolute necessity of pressing the subject of this paper on all who profess a desire for holiness, and of crying aloud in all the churches – “Count the Cost.”

I am bold to say that it would be well if the duty of “counting the cost” were more frequently taught than it is. Impatient hurry is the order of the day with many religionists. Instantaneous conversions, and immediate sensible peace, are the only results they seem to care for from the Gospel. Compared with these all other things are thrown into the shade. To produce them is the grand end and object, apparently, of all their labors. I say without hesitation that such a naked, one-sided mode of teaching Christianity is mischievous in the extreme.

Let no one mistake my meaning. I thoroughly approve of offering men a full, free, present, immediate salvation in Christ Jesus. I thoroughly approve of urging on man the possibility and the duty of immediate instantaneous conversion. In these matters I give place to no one. But I do say that these truths ought not to be set before men nakedly, singly, and alone. They ought to be told honestly what it is they are taking up, if they profess a desire to come out from the world and serve Christ. They ought not to be pressed into the ranks of Christ’s army without being told what the warfare entails. In a word, they should be told honestly to “count the cost.”

Does any one ask what our Lord Jesus Christ’s practice was in this matter? Let him read what St. Luke records. He tells us that on a certain occasion “There went great multitudes with Him: and He turned and said unto them, If any come to Me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whosoever does not bear his cross and come after Me, cannot be My disciple.” (Luke xiv. 25-27.) I must plainly say, that I cannot reconcile this passage with the proceedings of many modern religious teachers. And yet, to my mind, the doctrine of it is as clear as the sun at noon-day. It shows us that we ought not to hurry men into professing discipleship, without warning them plainly to “count the cost.”

Does any one ask what the practice of the eminent and best preachers of the Gospel has been in days gone by? I am bold to say that they have all with one mouth borne testimony to the wisdom of our Lord’s dealing with the multitudes to which I have just referred. Luther, and Latimer, and Baxter, and Wesley, and Whitfield, and Berridge, and Rowland Hill, were all keenly alive to the deceitfulness of man’s heart. They knew full well that all is not gold that glitters, that conviction is not conversion, that feeling is not faith, that sentiment is not grace, that all blossoms do not come to fruit. “Be not deceived,” was their constant cry. “Consider well what you do. Do not run before you are called. Count the cost.”

If we desire to do good, let us never be ashamed of walking in the steps of our Lord Jesus Christ. Work hard if you will, and have the opportunity, for the souls of others. Press them to consider their ways. Compel them with holy violence to come in, to lay down their arms, and to yield themselves to God. Offer them salvation, ready, free, full, immediate salvation. Press Christ and all His benefits on their acceptance. But in all your work tell the truth, and the whole truth. Be ashamed to use the vulgar arts of a recruiting sergeant. Do not speak only of the uniform, the pay, and the glory; speak also of the enemies, the battle, the armor, the watching, the marching, and the drill. Do not present only one side of Christianity. Do not keep back “the cross” of self-denial that must be carried, when you speak of the cross on which Christ died for our redemption. Explain fully what Christianity entails. Entreat men to repent and come to Christ; but bid them at the same time to “count the cost.”

III. The third and last thing which I propose to do, is to give some hints which may help men to “count the cost” rightly.

Sorry indeed should I be if I did not say something on this branch of my subject. I have no wish to discourage any one, or to keep any one back from Christ’s service. It is my heart’s desire to encourage every one to go forward and take up the cross. Let us “count the cost” by all means, and count it carefully. But let us remember, that if we count rightly, and look on all sides, there is nothing that need make us afraid.

Let us mention some things which should always enter into our calculations in counting the cost of true Christianity. Set down honestly and fairly what you will have to give up and go through, if you become Christ’s disciple. Leave nothing out. Put it all down. But then set down side by side the following sums which I am going to give you. Do this fairly and correctly, and I am not afraid for the result.

(a)  Count up and compare, for one thing, the profit and the loss, if you are a true-hearted and holy Christian. You may possibly lose something in this world, but you will gain the salvation of your immortal soul. It is written – “What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark viii. 36.)

(b)  Count up and compare, for another thing, the praise and the blame, if you are a true-hearted and holy Christian. You may possibly be blamed by man, but you will have the praise of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. Your blame will come from the lips of a few erring, blind, fallible men and women. Your praise will come from the King of kings and Judge of all the earth. It is only those whom He blesses who are really blessed. It is written – “Blessed are you when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven.” (Matthew v. 11, 12.)

(c)  Count up and compare, for another thing, the friends and the enemies, if you are a true-hearted and holy Christian. On the one side of you is the enmity of the devil and the wicked. On the other, you have the favor and friendship of the Lord Jesus Christ. Your enemies, at most, can only bruise your heel. They may rage loudly, and compass sea and land to work your ruin; but they cannot destroy you. Your Friend is able to save to the uttermost all them that come unto God by Him. None shall ever pluck His sheep out of His hand. It is written – “Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom you shall fear: Fear Him, which after He hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, fear Him.” (Luke xii. 5.)

(d)  Count up and compare, for another thing, the life that now is and the life to come, if you are a true-hearted and holy Christian. The time present, no doubt, is not a time of ease. It is a time of watching and praying, fighting and struggling, believing and working. But it is only for a few years. The time future is the season of rest and refreshing. Sin shall be cast out. Satan shall be bound. And, best of all, it shall be a rest for ever. It is written – “Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians iv. 17, 18.)

(e)  Count up and compare, for another thing, the pleasures of sin and the happiness of God’s service, if you are a true-hearted and holy Christian, for the pleasures that the worldly man gets by his ways are hollow, unreal, and unsatisfying. They are like the fire of thorns, flashing and crackling for a few minutes, and then quenched forever. The happiness that Christ gives to His people is something solid, lasting, and substantial. It is not dependent on health or circumstances. It never leaves a man, even in death. It ends in a crown of glory that fadeth not away. It is written – “The joy of the hypocrite is but for a moment.” – “As the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of the fool.” (Job xx. 5; Eccl. vii. 6.) But it is also written – “Peace I leave with you, my peace give I unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John xiv. 27.)

(f)   Count up and compare, for another thing, the trouble that true Christianity entails, and the troubles that are in store for the wicked beyond the grave. Grant for a moment that Bible-reading, and praying, and repenting, and believing, and holy living, require pains and self-denial. It is all nothing compared to that “wrath to come” which is stored up for the impenitent and unbelieving. A single day in hell will be worse than a whole life spent in carrying the cross. The “worm that never dies, and the fire that is not quenched,” are things which it passes man’s power to conceive fully or describe. It is written – “Son, remember that thou in thy life-time received thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and thou art tormented.” (Luke xvi. 25.)

(g)  Count up and compare, in the last place, the number of those who turn from sin and the world and serve Christ, and the number of those who forsake Christ and return to the world. On the one side you will find thousands – on the other you will find none. Multitudes are every year turning out of the broad way and entering the narrow. None who really enter the narrow way grow tired of it and return to the broad. The footsteps in the downward road are often to be seen turning out of it. The footsteps in the road to heaven are all one way. It is written – “The way of the wicked is darkness” – “The way of transgressors is hard.” (Proverbs iv. 19; xiii. 15.) But it is also written – “The path of the just is as the shining light, which shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” (Proverbs iv. 8.)

Such sums as these, no doubt, are often not done correctly. Not a few, I am well aware, are ever “halting between two opinions.” They cannot make up their minds that it is worthwhile to serve Christ. The losses and gains, the advantages and disadvantages, the sorrows and the joys, the helps and the hindrances with that faith we shall set things down at their true value. Filled with that faith we shall neither add to the cross nor subtract from the crown. Our conclusions will be all correct. Our sum total will be without error.

(1)  In conclusion, let every reader of this paper think seriously, whether his religion costs him anything at present. Very likely it costs you nothing. Very probably it neither costs you trouble, nor time, nor thought, nor care, nor pains, nor reading, nor praying, nor self-denial, nor conflict, nor working, nor labor of any kind. Now mark what I say. Such a religion as this will never save your soul. It will never give you peace while you live, nor hope while you die. It will not support you in the day of affliction, nor cheer you in the hour of death. A religion which costs nothing is worth nothing. Awake before it is too late. Awake and repent. Awake and be converted. Awake and believe. Awake and pray. Rest not till you can give a satisfactory answer to my question, “What does it cost?”

(2)  Think, if you want stirring motives for serving God, what it cost to provide a salvation for your soul.

Think how the Son of God left heaven and became Man, suffered on the cross, and lay in the grave, to pay your debt to God, and work out for you a complete redemption. Think of all this and learn that it is no light matter to possess an immortal soul. It is worthwhile to take some trouble about one’s soul.

Ah, lazy man or woman, is it really come to this, that you will miss heaven for lack of trouble? Are you really determined to make shipwreck forever, from mere dislike to exertion? Away with the cowardly, unworthy thought. Arise and play the man. Say to yourself, “Whatever it may cost, I will, at any rate, strive to enter in at the strait gate.” Look at the cross of Christ, and take fresh courage. Look forward to death, judgment, and eternity, and be in earnest. It may cost much to be a Christian, but you may be sure it pays.

(3)  If any reader of this paper really feels that he has counted the cost, and taken up the cross, I bid him persevere and press on. I dare say you often feel your heart faint, and are sorely tempted to give up in despair. Your enemies seem so many, your besetting sins so strong, your friends so few, the way so steep and narrow, you hardly know what to do. But still I say, persevere and press on.

The time is very short. A few more years of watching and praying, a few more tossings on the sea of this world, a few more deaths and changes, a few more winters and summers, and all will be over. We shall have fought our last battle, and shall need to fight no more.

The presence and company of Christ will make amends for all we suffer here below. When we see as we have been seen, and look back on the journey of life, we shall wonder at our own faintness of heart. We shall marvel that we made so much of our cross, and thought so little of our crown. We shall marvel that in “counting the cost” we could ever doubt on which side the balance of profit lay. Let us take courage. We are not far from home. It may cost much to be a true Christian and a consistent believer; but it pays.

[*9] I should be very sorry indeed if the language I have used above about revivals was misunderstood. To prevent this I will offer a few remarks by way of explanation. For true revivals of religion no one can be more deeply thankful than I am. Wherever they may take place, and by whatever agents they may be effected, I desire to bless God for them, with all my heart. “If Christ is preached,” I rejoice, whoever may be the preacher. If souls are saved, I rejoice, by whatever section of the Church the word of life has been ministered. But it is a melancholy fact that, in a world like this, you cannot have good without evil. I have no hesitation in saying, that one consequence of the revival movement has been the rise of a theological system which I feel obliged to call defective and mischievous in the extreme. The leading feature of the theological system I refer to, is this: an extravagant and disproportionate magnifying of three points in religion, – viz., instantaneous conversion – the invitation of unconverted sinners to come to Christ, – and the possession of inward joy and peace as a test of conversion. I repeat that these three grand truths (for truths they are) are so incessantly and exclusively brought forward, in some quarters, that great harm is done. Instantaneous conversion, no doubt, ought to be pressed on people. But surely they ought not to be led to suppose that there is no other sort of conversion, and that unless they are suddenly and powerfully converted to God, they are not converted at all. The duty of coming to Christ at once, “just as we are,” should be pressed on all hearers. It is the very corner-stone of Gospel preaching. But surely men ought to be told to repent as well as to believe. They should be told why they are to come to Christ, and what they are to come for, and whence their need arises. The nearness of peace and comfort in Christ should be proclaimed to men. But surely they should be taught that the possession of strong inward joys and high frames of mind is not essential to justification, and that there may be true faith and true peace without such very triumphant feelings. Joy alone is no certain evidence of grace. The defects of the theological system I have in view appear to me to be these: (1) The work of the Holy Ghost in converting sinners is far too much narrowed and confined to one single way. Not all true converts are converted instantaneously, like Saul and the Philippian jailor. (2) Sinners are not sufficiently instructed about the holiness of God’s law, the depth of their sinfulness, and the real guilt of sin. To be incessantly telling a sinner to “come to Christ” is of little use, unless you tell him why he needs to come, and show him fully his sins. (3) Faith is not properly explained. In some cases people are taught that mere feeling is faith. In others they are taught that if they believe that Christ died for sinners they have faith! At this rate the very devils are believers! (4) The possession of inward joy and assurance is made essential to believing. Yet assurance is certainly not of the essence of saving faith. There may be faith when there is no assurance. To insist on all believers at once “rejoicing,” as soon as they believe, is most unsafe. Some, I am quite sure, will rejoice without believing, while others will believe who cannot at once rejoice. (5) Last, but not least, the sovereignty of God in saving sinners, and the absolute necessity of preventing grace, are far too much overlooked. Many talk as if conversions could be manufactured at man’s pleasure, and as if there were no such text as this, “It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy.” (Romans ix. 16.) The mischief done by the theological system I refer to is, I am persuaded, very great. On the one hand, many humble-minded Christians are totally discouraged and daunted. They fancy they have no grace because they cannot reach up to the high frames and feelings which are pressed on their attention. On the other side, many graceless people are deluded into thinking they are “converted,” because under the pressure or animal excitement and temporary feelings they arc led to profess themselves Christians. And all this time the thoughtless and ungodly look on with contempt, and rind fresh reasons for neglecting religion altogether. The antidotes to the state of things I deplore are plain and few. (1) Let “all the counsel of God be taught” in Scriptural proportion; and let not two or three precious doctrines of the Gospel be allowed to overshadow all other truths. (2) Let repentance be taught fully as well as faith, and not thrust completely into the background. Our Lord Jesus Christ and St. Paul always taught both. (3) Let the variety of the Holy Ghost’s works be honestly stated and admitted; and while instantaneous conversion is pressed on men, let it not be taught as a necessity. (4) Let those who profess to have found immediate sensible peace be plainly warned to try themselves well, and to remember that feeling is not faith, and that “patient continuance in well-doing” is the great proof that faith is true. (John viii. 31.) (5) Let the great duty of “counting the cost” be constantly urged on all who are disposed to make a religious profession, and let them be honestly and fairly told that there is warfare as well as peace, a cross as well as a crown, in Christ’s service. I am sure that unhealthy excitement is above all things to be dreaded in religion, because it often ends in fatal, soul-ruining reaction and utter deadness. And when multitudes are suddenly brought under the power of religious impressions, unhealthy excitement is almost sure to follow. I have not much faith in the soundness of conversions when they are said to take places in masses and wholesale. It does not seem to me in harmony with God’s general dealings in this dispensation. To my eyes it appears that God’s ordinary plan is to call in individuals one by one. Therefore, when I hear of large numbers being suddenly converted all at one time, I hear of it with less hope than some. The healthiest and most enduring success in mission fields is certainly not where natives have come over to Christianity in a mass. The most satisfactory and firmest work at home does not always appear to me to be the work done in revivals. There are two passages of Scripture which I should like to have frequently and fully expounded in the present day by all who preach the Gospel, and specially by those who have anything to do with revivals. One passage is the parable of the sower, that parable is not recorded three times over without good reason and a deep meaning. – The other passage is our Lord’s teaching about “counting the cost,” and the words which He spoke to the “great multitudes” whom He saw following Him. It is very noteworthy that He did not on that occasion say anything to flatter these volunteers or encourage them to follow Him. No: He saw what their case needed. He told them to stand still and “count the cost.” (Luke xiv. 25, etc.) I am not sure that some modern preachers would have adopted this course of treatment.

More than forgiven…

Posted: May 8, 2020 in Shared Thoughts

People need to understand that Jesus did not die merely to forgive them their sins; He died and rose again in order to save them from their sins. Otherwise, it would be little more than forgiving someone for crimes committed out of ignorance or poverty, yet allowing them to stay in jail. Nor does saving them from their sins only mean they receive a “get out of jail free card.” No, He saves people from their ignorance and corrupt nature, which causes them to sin, in an endeavor to make them partakers of His very own divine nature.

Jesus came, died, rose again, and is willing to send His spirit to all that ask, that He might restore any and all to the very essence God originally intended for them to be, holy, temples suitable for His own Spirit to dwell with in. He faithfully guides and enables His followers to be more than mere animals that live only mindful of the appetites of their lowly fleshly bodies; for He causes them to become spiritually alive by placing His own Spirit with in them. He “saves us from our sins” because He BOTH forgives AND leads them out of their prisons and into the glorious liberty of His light and truth and into communion with Himself.

For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. For the carnal mind is constantly at war against God; because it is not subject to the law of God, nor can it be. Such is why they who think and live and focus only in the flesh cannot please God. But, if you have truly been “saved,” you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit; if in truth the Spirit of God dwells in you. For if anyone has not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His.

This truth is as obvious to the true believer in Jesus Christ as is a developing fetus in the womb of a pregnant woman. There is no doubt in her mind something is radically different and new in her body and life, because the evidence of a conception of life continues to grow daily in her.

Is this new life of Christ so growing in you?

If so, then continue to faithfully purify your souls in the obedience of the truth, through the Spirit of Christ within you, unto an unfeigned love of the brothers. We must love one another fervently out of a pure heart, for we have been born again, not mere semen, but by an incorruptible seed, through the living Word of God in us; which abides true and faithful forever.

See Romans 8:6-9 and 1st Peter 1:22, 23

Originally posted Posted: October 6, 2015

Back in 2015 I was asked  to share with a local fellowship after the pastor had received and read about America’s imminent destruction in my book The Eighth Beast. The following is the recorded message from that meeting. May it minister to you.

Live for the King!

God’s Breech of Promise

Posted: April 3, 2020 in Shared Thoughts

Numbers 14:34 – After the number of the days in which ye searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year, shall ye bear your iniquities, even forty years, and ye shall know My breach of promise.

Few “believers” give the necessary consideration to the words spoken by God here to His people when He states, “and now you shall know My breech of promise.”

A “Breach of Promise” is most commonly connected with marriage, and is often called “Breach of Promise to Marry.” (Don’t get confused with the different spellings, “breech” is simply the archaic KJV spelling, “breach” the modern.) There is also the term “Breach of Contract,” which refers to one party of a contract failing to uphold their end the contract. Such failure legally allows the other party to “breach” the contract as well.

Therefore, God’s people should give serious heed to these words spoken by God to His people. For He had surely swore unto them that He would give them the “Promise Land,” yet here He states He is going breach, or break His promise unto them. Yet not with out cause, for God had longsuffered with their complaining and disbelief while continuing to provide miraculously their food and water and being a constant visible presence of defense for them; a cloud by day and a cloud of fire by night that they would be protected from the heat of day and the cold of night.

Yet here upon getting His people to the threshold of The Promised Land, except for those who had grievously rebelled against Him and thereby perished in their sins prior hereto, God was now ready to fulfill His word to them. Even so, after all God had done and showed Himself both capable and faith to keep His word, they failed to believe Him when the time of their inheritance was at hand.

Do not think this is just some Old Testament accounting of an angry God before the “dispensation of grace.” No, for we see volumes of grace and mercy with God hearing the cries of His people and bringing them out of their captivity with a mighty hand. Those who fail to see it are surely spiritually blind. For we the Church of God today, believers in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the very members of His Body, are given a very stern warning in the New Testament in the Book of Hebrews to which we must give heed.

4:1 – Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. 2 For unto us was the gospel preached, AS WELL AS UNTO THEM: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.

Faith is a necessity on their part of the Covenant God has with His people; for with out faith it is impossible to please God. Faith is not mere belief, for one can believe and fail to respond or trust; but true God-pleasing-faith works by love and trust. Faith must have equal parts of belief, trust, and love, if it is to please God and compel Him to open wide the provisions of heaven and shower His blessings upon His people.

But though it is a grand thing to be called such, we are not just “The people of the Living God.” No, for as the Apostle Paul states, we have been “espoused,” or entered into an engagement of marriage with Christ, and are therefore expected to be a “chaste virgin to Christ.” We are not just the people of God; we are those who are to be living with earnest expectation of His coming for His Bride and preparing ourselves for the day of the “Marriage of the Lamb.”

What historically grieved the heart of God over and over? Those, who were called by His name, who lived seeking to satisfy their lust, love the world, and were basically self-centered. For this was the constant gateway for idolatry to creep into their impure hearts. Such is why friendship with the world places us at enmity, or war with God. If we look to, and love, and live in the realm of the flesh and earthly things, we are breaching our part of the Covenant. For God is a Spirit, and He is Holy, and He has commanded us to be holy. For the time has come, and now is, when the true worshipers of God must worship Him in spirit and truth, and not in some vain believe-ism with empty and dead religious traditions.

1 John 3:2 – Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is. 3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as He is pure.

1 John 4:17 – Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as He is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear: because fear hath torment. He that fears is not made perfect in love. 19 We love Him, because He first loved us.

So please, do not be foolish virgins, but purchase now the oil needed for your lamps as we wait for the marriage day at hand. And “Today, if you will hear His voice, harden not your hearts.” For if Joshua had given them this promise of “rest” 40 years later by leading them in the conquest of the Promise Land, then King David many, many years afterward would not have prophesied of yet “another day;” the marriage day.

See then that there still remains “a rest” for the people of God to be entered into. For whoever has entered into his rest, he must also have ceased from his own works, as God did from His; meaning he has COMPLETED THE WORKS given him by God to do, for we all must accomplish “through faith” our own works which are assigned unto us by God. This is what the Apostle Paul referred to as “Working out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” Therefore, let us labor to enter into that rest, lest anyone fall after the same example of unbelief and thereby likewise come to experience God’s “breech of promise.”

Consider Paul’s words of confidence in 2 Timothy 4:6-8, “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. For I Have Fought A Good Fight, I Have Finished My Course, I Have Kept The Faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing.

Such is why Paul prayed for the church, stating, “For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named; That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man. And that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that being rooted and grounded in love, you may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and fully know the love of Christ, which passes knowledge; That You Might Be Filled With All The Fullness Of God. Now unto Him that is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, Unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.”

Trust, Love, and Obey.
Live for the resurrected King of Glory!!

I know I have written several times on grace in the past, but we must be obedient to what we feel the Lord gives us to share. So, whoever you are, maybe this is just for you.

The follow list contains three things that God’s word not only fundamentally teaches about God’s grace, but biblical history affirms over and over again to be true as it records without partiality the triumphs and failures of those who believed in God.

  1. Grace is sufficient.
  2. Grace can be frustrated.
  3. Grace can be received in vain.

First, regarding grace’s sufficiency in the life of the believer, Paul was assure by God that His grace would be adequate to see him through whatever temptations he would endure or the trials and persecutions he must suffer for the cause of Christ.

2 Corinthians 12:9 – And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Paul learned his confidence was only to be in God’s grace, and that he could not depend on his own strength or power. For it was in his weakness where Paul found he was able to experience God’s fullness in a way he couldn’t in those areas where his own strength or wisdom were adequate, such as making and mending tents. But when it came to his salvation, doing the work of the ministry, fighting the fight, or running the race, Paul knew full well he could not do those things apart from the grace of God given unto him.

Furthermore, the fact that God had given such empowering grace unto Paul, he was fully aware he must take full advantage of it so as not to frustrate it, lest he fall short in the calling God had given unto him.

1 Corinthians 9:16 – For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!

I often use the following example when speaking of God’s “sufficient” grace. Someone needs to get somewhere but they have no means to get there. They are at an impasse and do not know what they are going to do because they have to get there or the consequences will be severe if they fail to do so. Upon hearing of their plight I offer them the use of my car, to which they say, “Great, but I have no money for gas.” I tell them no worries, I will fill up the tank and that will be more than sufficient to get them there.

Being greatly relieved, they are now confident that they can safely make the trip because they have been given all they need for the journey, but while on their way they get to thinking they have more than enough time and there is “more than sufficient” gas, so they take the liberty to go sightseeing to other places along the way. Getting caught up in their new found liberty with my car and gas, they carelessly are driving around exhausting the gas. Soon they turn around towards their original destination and suddenly to their surprise the car abruptly stops out of gas!

Is this is not like the parable of the ten virgins Jesus gave us? Or the warning in Hebrews 4-

Hebrews 4:1 – Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into His rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. 2 For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.

There was no more reason for the people to run out of gas than there was for why the promise of God to give “The promise Land” wasn’t realized by those to whom the promise was given. Yet we too today are being warned of like consequences, the possibility of coming short of our destination by tempting the sufficient limitations of God’s grace. For “To day if you will hear His voice, harden not your hearts.” God clearly gave the Israelites a sure promise, and all the promises of God in Jesus are yea, and in Him, Amen, unto the glory of God by us! And so how could it possibly be that they failed to have God’s promise fulfilled?

Numbers 14:34 – After the number of the days in which you searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year, shall you bear your iniquities, even forty years, and you shall know My breach of promise. 35 I the LORD have said, I will surely do it unto all this evil congregation, that are gathered together against me: in this wilderness they shall be consumed, and there they shall die.

What’s this? God told them they would know His “breach of promise?” How could this be? Surely God doesn’t break His word? There is no doubt that He loved them, and God is no respecter of person, right? And yet what did Peter say when God gave him the revelation of His grace being given unto the Gentiles too?

Acts 10:34 Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: 35 But in every nation he that fears Him, and works righteousness, is accepted with Him.

Secondly, scriptures clearly say God’s grace can undeniably be frustrated.

Galatians 2:21 – I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.

Paul makes it clear; God gave unto him a grace that was sufficient to enable him to be and do all which God had called him to. This grace given wasn’t because of any sacrificed animal or any other ordinance given under the Levitical priesthood, or because of Paul’s own keeping of the Law. Rather, this grace was founded upon what God did through Christ so that Paul and men everywhere could be washed and justified of their sins and then filled with the Spirit of Christ in them, the hope of glory. It was this indwelling grace of the Spirit of Christ that enabled Paul to do and be all that God required of him. Likewise God desires His grace to work in men so they too might fulfill that which God requires of every one who names the name of Christ.

Hebrews 7:11 – If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron?

Romans 8:3 – For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh.

It was impossible for the law to save men, as it was weak through the flesh, meaning “it is not possible” for dead, unholy men to make themselves holy and alive, or “that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away [their] sins,” (Hebrews 10:4). Therefore, God sending his own Son in the likeness of man’s own sinful flesh, through Jesus’ shed blood and it alone men can now be justified of their sins, fully forgiven and sanctified so as to render them fit for the fullness of God’s sufficient grace; the indwelling and empowering of the Spirit of Christ.

Galatians 2:20 – I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me. 21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.

I Timothy 1:12 – And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry.

Colossians 1:27 – To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: 28 Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: 29 Whereunto I also labor, striving according to His working, which works in me mightily.

Three, God’s grace can be received in vain.

Grace is so, so much more than just “unmerited favor.” Yes, absolutely God’s offer of grace is unmerited, for it was ordained from the beginning, even before the foundations of the world, long before anyone could have even tried to earn, merit, or deserve it. And when sin did abound, grace did abound all the more in that Christ came and willingly died for the ungodly. But God’s grace doesn’t stop at the offer of forgiveness of sins, for it is the power which quickens dead men and makes them alive and turns sinners into saints.

1 Corinthians 1:24 – But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.

God’s grace is the power of God that delivers us from the sinful nature embedded in our hearts and equips us for our unique ministry unto Him and others. It cannot be said enough, grace is the divine indwelling of Christ Himself empowering us, moving us ever towards victory and making us overcomers. It is by this grace and grace alone we are what we are, (or can be as we grow in Christ), or as Paul said, “I am what I am…”

II Corinthians 6:1 – We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.

I Corinthians 15:10 – But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

Likewise, we all must be sober and recognize that the Kingdom of God suffers violence and they who would take it must take by force as the Jews did the Promise Land. But we need not depend on our own strength, for it is by the force/power which works in us mightily as we exercise our love and faith in Christ that we are empowered to do what He has called us to do.

Like Paul says, faith works through love.

Galatians 5:6 – For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision avail anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith which works by love.

John 14:23 – Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love Me, he will keep My words: and My Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make Our abode with him. 24 He that loves Me not keeps not My sayings: and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s which sent Me.

Faith works because it is the consequence of hearing God’s word whereby we can receive grace to enable us to be faithful. For the Apostle Paul said, “For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.” So let’s look into this, first faith comes by hearing God’s word, and then grace through faith saves us. However we know without hearing we could have no faith, and yet it is through faith that grace comes whereby we are saved. So what is the gift? Is it grace or faith? What says the word of God?

Romans 12:3 – For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.

Every man has been dealt the measure of faith, but what is that measure? What does that mean? It means that for all those who would recognize their personal poverty of spirit, and mourn for their sins before a holy God and quit excusing themselves by blaming everyone and everything for what they are and have done, and start to hunger and thirst for righteousness, that God will give them grace for obedience to the faith. That is the beginning of the Be Attitudes of the Sermon on the Mount.

Romans 1:5 – By whom we have received grace… for obedience to the faith among all nations, for His name.

But how can men know these things without hearing the word of God or be able to recognize it as true? By that measure of faith God has dealt to every man. Every person has enough faith already dealt to them; it is there in their conscience with the writing of God’s law in their inner man that can enable them to properly respond to hearing the gospel, the only question is will they? Even creation is designed so as to stir up that measure of faith, compelling all men to seek after God and truth.

Romans 1:20 – For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.

  Consequently, there is no excuse, even Wisdom is said to be continually “in the chief place of concourse, in the openings of the gates: in the city she utters her words, saying, “How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge? Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out My spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you.” Thus hearing God’s word we are given that increase of faith through which grace can flood our souls and save us, God pouring out His Spirit unto us and changing us from the inside out, from inward virtue to outward godliness.

2 Peter 1:5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; 6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; 7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. 8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus expects to see these things in us, for by “grace through faith” these things should be in us and abounding. Otherwise we will be proven to have been “barren…[and] unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Surely none of us would be content or pleased with a friend or a spouse as our lover who simply “believes” in us. We would expect and settle for nothing less than faithfulness, and rightly so, because that is the reasonable expectation of a love perfected by grace. True faith will always work towards faithfulness because faith works by love. It really is that simple.

Sadly, many believers continue in sin while rejecting correction with “God loves me unconditionally.” They have minimize amazing grace to nothing more than “unmerited favor.” Foolishly they live out their lives giving way to their flesh, continuing their friendship with the world. They don’t even try to keep His words simply because they don’t love Him, having believed the lie it really doesn’t matter anyway… since God loves them unconditionally. But is that what Jesus said or their pastor?

John 14:21 He that hath My commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me: and he that loveth Me shall be loved of My Father, and I will love him, and will manifest Myself to him. 22 Judas saith unto Him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that Thou wilt manifest Thyself unto us, and not unto the world? 23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love Me, he will keep My words: and My Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make Our abode with him. 24 He that loveth Me not keepeth not My sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent Me.

Right there in verse 23 is the biggest word in the bible, and often the most overlooked, “If.” Wherever there is an “if” in the scriptures there is also an insinuated “then.” That little word has enormous meaning; for it is a qualifier preceding a condition. That little “if” is a razor sharp edge on the sword of the spirit that cuts through all the pretense and good intentions to the very heart of every man’s faith and belief in God. So much so that the Beloved Apostle John had this to say-

1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, [then] we [God and us] have fellowship one with another, and [then] the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.

The very first act of grace through faith is the work of repentance, faithfulness to the commandment of Christ to all men.

Acts 17:30 – And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commands all men everywhere to repent.

Titus 2:11 – For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.

1 Peter 1:13 – Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 14 As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: 15 But as He which hath called you is holy, so be you holy in all manner of conversation; 16 Because it is written, Be you holy; for I am holy.

Sadly, many professors of faith today will one day find they have exhausted the grace of God, having frustrated it with their persistent unfaithfulness. They neglect that measure of faith dealt to them and thereby limit the effectual working of God’s grace, burying as it were the proverbial “talent” Christ entrusted them with to invest towards for His glory. These are they who will one day find they were actually goats and not sheep they thought they were when the Lord returns to separate those professing to know Him.

Psalm 78:41 – Yea, they turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel. 42 They remembered not his hand, nor the day when he delivered them from the enemy.

Dear reader, this is a very serious matter, because God has given unto us exceeding great and precious promises that enable us to be holy and separate from the world, doers of His word and not hearers only, to answer the call to be glorious partakers of His divine nature, having Christ formed in us and escaping the wrath to come.

1 Peter 1:3 – According as His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue: 4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

No Excuse

Even though Adam sinned and all are now required to escape the corruption that is in the world through lust, there is no excuse for continuing in sin. For God foresaw sin even before anything was created and though as a mystery hid until the appointed time, the remedy was always there. Therefore it must be recognized as an indisputable fact that God foresaw absolutely everything, in infinitesimal detail, and categorically knew every good and evil thing that would transpire throughout all eternity. Therefore before the creation of man, God fully knew all the circumstances which would occur and every opposing force of evil that would arise with all their intensity, destruction and confusion, and accordingly made all the necessary preparations to assure His own purposes and glory. That regardless of the foe or evil intent, He can absolutely assure those who love Him, that each and every circumstance and event in their lives was foreseen and therefore He can successfully work all things together for their eternal well-being.

No, the foreknowledge of sin didn’t discourage God; He still elected to create humanity in His image, knowing that as lights they could still brilliantly manifest the wonders and glory of God through the sufficiency of His amazing grace available through Jesus Christ the Lord. Each created to be temples for the Spirit of the living God, and called to “serve the LORD with gladness… [for] the LORD He is God: it is He that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture.” Man, every man, is “His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” What then will sinners say when they are asked by their Creator why they ignored His calling them?

 It is irrelevant how men may view and dismiss their sin, for what God sees in sin is a willingness of men to trample His Son in order to continue down their own path with a callous indifference for Jesus’ precious blood; devalued to the status of a common product readily available on shelves of the local convenient stores that they assume will always be there whenever they need it. Sadly such people are sitting in churches on Sunday feeling all justified while committing idolatry, worshiping a “Jesus” the modern commercial church system has made just for them and they don’t even know the difference.

2 Corinthians 11:4 – If indeed someone is coming to preach another Jesus, whom I did not preach, or you are receiving a Spirit other than you once received, or another gospel which you did not accept before, you would do well to bear with me.

Dear reader, if Jesus tells us, “Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name? And in Your name have cast out devils? And in Your name done many wonderful works?” Don’t you think we better be sure we know who He was talking about? Before He says to us as well, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who work iniquity.”

It has been said the judgment of God is to let men go their own way when they have frustrated His grace. For this cause God permitted the rise of those empires that took the Jews into captivity twice, and why He allows the rise of the last and final, Eighth Beast, a corrupt government system under the authority of Satan eager to force those created in God’s image to desecrate their bodies (God’s temples) with a “mark” that would forever oblige them to now serve and worship the dragon and the beast.

2 Peter 3:13 Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwells righteousness. 14 Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless. 15 And account that the long-suffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; 16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. 17 Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. 18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever. Amen.